NFL Toe-Dips Official Gambling World With Caesars Deal
The National Football League (NFL) and Caesars Entertainment Corporation (CEC) on Thursday announced a sponsorship deal that represents the first-ever casino-related marketing deal for the most “officially” anti-gambling league among major US-based sports offerings. The deal, the official, brief text of which is reprised below, makes CEC the “first-ever Official Casino Sponsor of the NFL.”
As gambling-related deals go, this is a minor one; it amounts to a trade-off of brand imagery between the two entities. According to a Caesars statement, “Caesars will have the exclusive right to use NFL trademarks in the United States and the United Kingdom to promote Caesars casino properties and activate at key NFL events including the Super Bowl and NFL Draft.”
The deal is for multiple years and encompasses Caesars offerings in the United States and United Kingdom, where the NFL has held occasional games in recent years. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The NFL-Caesars deal doesn’t include anything having to do with actual sports betting, which isn’t that surprising. The NFL has long been the primary driver behind the near-nationwide “PASPA” (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) ban that blocked sing-event sports betting everywhere except Nevada until being ruled unconstitutional earlier this year. The roughly quarter-century-old PASPA was originally created under the heavy lobbying influence of the NFL.
In the months since PASPA’s downfall, the other major professional US sports associations have cut branding and data-rights deals, predominantly with two major casino entities, MGM Resorts and Caesars. Those deals have created gambling-related revenue streams for the other leagues, even as they continue pushing for controversial and unpopular “integrity” or data-rights fees at both the federal and state levels.
The NFL still hasn’t taken that step, though the branding tie-up with Caesars at least represents a willingness to talk with gambling companies and work within the reality of the opening US sports-betting market. Despite the NFL’s hardline approach, the truth is that the league has long promoted practices supporting little besides the sports-betting market. Examples include the public issuing of injury reports, which affect the lines posted on games each and every week. The NFL has also maintained a tacit approval of betting lines while officially keeping them at arm’s length, particularly as utilized by the league’s broadcast partners.
Here’s the text of the presser announcing the deal:
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE SELECTS CAESARS ENTERTAINMENT AS FIRST-EVER OFFICIAL CASINO SPONSOR
Landmark sponsorship is the first-ever national casino agreement for the NFL
Caesars Entertainment will provide unique experiences for NFL fans by engaging its casino properties, celebrity chefs, premier music artists and a wide range of entertainers
NEW YORK, NY & LAS VEGAS, NV (Jan. 3, 2019) – The National Football League today announced they have selected Caesars Entertainment Corporation (NASDAQ: CZR) as the first-ever Official Casino Sponsor of the NFL.
Beginning with the upcoming 2019 NFL playoffs, this multi-year sponsorship is focused on Caesars providing unique experiences for NFL fans by using its casino properties, celebrity chefs, premier music artists and a wide range of entertainment elements.
Caesars will have the exclusive right to use NFL trademarks in the United States and the United Kingdom to promote Caesars casino properties and activate at key NFL events including the Super Bowl and NFL Draft.
“We couldn’t be more excited to work with one of the world’s largest gaming and entertainment companies,” said Renie Anderson, Senior Vice President, NFL Partnerships, Sponsorship and Consumer Products. “Combining the NFL with Caesars’ expertise in world class entertainment will provide our fans unique experiences both here in the United States and abroad.”
“All of us at Caesars Entertainment are thrilled to be the first-ever casino partner of the NFL, the most prominent sports league in North America,” said Mark Frissora, President and CEO of Caesars Entertainment. “Combining the league’s 180 million fans with our 55 million Total Rewards loyalty program members will expose millions of people to the exclusive and exciting year-round opportunities at our properties.”
Seven NFL Clubs have relationships with Caesars Entertainment, including the Falcons, Ravens, Bears, Colts, Saints, Raiders and Eagles. These partnerships, along with the new League deal, are for the Casino category only and do not include sports betting, daily fantasy or hotels/resorts.
Caesars, alongside other properties on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip, will host elements of the 2020 Draft in coordination with the City of Las Vegas to help create this historic event.