Regulated sports betting in America is starting to produce some very strange bedfellows. Earlier this week, MGM Resorts entered into a $25 million agreement with the National Basketball Association (NBA) that places MGM as the “official gaming partner” of the NBA. It’s an interesting deal that provides MGM with branding rights, an official data stream from the league, but does not include integrity fees.

Through the leadership of its commissioner, Adam Silver, the NBA has always been the most progressive US professional sports league when it comes to regulated sports betting. Silver long ago accepted, and embraced, the inevitability of sports betting and was supportive of regulation.

The move is a big win for MGM Resorts as US gaming companies battle it out to grab their piece of the emerging US sports betting market.

As part of the deal, MGM Resorts will have access to the NBA’s official data stream, but that is not an exclusive deal. Other casinos will likely strike their own deals the NBA over data, but MGM Resorts will remain the official gaming partner of the league, exclusively.

Interestingly, the deal does not include any mention of so-called integrity fees. Integrity fees are a percentage of sports betting profits that some leagues have been pushing for to, supposedly, help them protect the integrity of their games from the dangers of sports betting.

In an interview with the Reuters News Agency, MGM Chief Executive Jim Murren addressed the issue of integrity saying, “My overarching objective is the integrity of the game. To be able to have the official NBA data for sports bettors around the world is very valuable, and … I’ve paid for that.”

Now that MGM has the NBA, the big question is, who gets the other leagues? There’s still plenty more happening as the US gaming industry gears up for the regulated sports betting era.


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