Gaming – US | NFL signs Caesars as casino partner, inches toward betting deals

The National Football League signed a multiyear deal to make Caesars Entertainment Corp. its first-
ever casino partner, bringing the pro sport and its owners closer to a possible deal for sports betting.

As part of the accord, which doesn’t deal with sports betting directly, Caesars will have exclusive rights to use NFL marks to promote casinos in the U.S. and U.K., the league and the company said in a statement. Las Vegas- based Caesars will pay close to USD30 million a year, according to a person familiar with the agreement who asked not to be identified because the terms are private.

Caesars agreed not to use the NFL’s logo in connection with its sport books, a sign the league isn’t quite ready to dive into legalized gambling the way other sports have.

“We’re not rushing into anything,” said Renie Anderson, the NFL’s senior vice president of sponsorship and partnership management. “We’ll continue to look at the industry as it evolves but it’s still has a lot of evolving to do.”

Major U.S. sports leagues are grappling with how to approach the new, legal and fast-growing sports-betting industry. The NFL eventually stands to reap as much as $2.3 billion in annual revenue from the industry, more than any other league, according to the American Gaming Association. Other sports have moved faster and already have betting deals in place.

The Caesars accord builds on the NFL’s growing sponsorship revenue, which increased 4.4 percent to $1.25 billion in 2016-2017 for the league and its 32 teams, according to IEG, a researcher. Total revenue is currently around $14 billion, with Commissioner Roger Goodell seeking to reach $25 billion by 2027.

The casino operator also will work with the league to create new experiences for its 55 million rewards customers – combining access to NFL events with Caesars’ stable of celebrity chefs, musical acts and locations across the country. The casino company is already a partner on the Raiders’ new Las Vegas stadium.

Caesars, the largest operator of casinos in the U.S., is among the most active companies in the growing sports-
betting industry. This week, the company announced a partnership with the Oneida Indian Nation to bring sports betting to the tribe’s three properties in New York. It has also signed sports-betting partnerships with the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils.

Should the NFL eventually seek an official sports-book partner, Caesars will already have close ties to the league. In addition to the league- wide partnership, several teams, including the New Orleans Saints and the Chicago Bears, have Caesars relationships.

Talks between the two sides were first reported by Legal Sports Report in December. Eben Novy-Williams, Scott Soshnick, Bloomberg

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