Major League Baseball has agreed to a multiyear deal with FanDuel, making the company its latest authorized gaming operator.
The agreement puts FanDuel in line with DraftKings, which signed a similar deal with MLB in July.
FanDuel Promises ‘Enhanced Betting Experience’
A wider ranging partnership was also struck with MGM last year, making the casino giant the official gaming and entertainment partner of MLB.
Under the terms of the partnership, FanDuel will gain the ability to use team marks and logos both online and at its retail sportsbooks. Perhaps more importantly, FanDuel will also gain access to official MLB data, something that professional sports leagues are increasingly monetizing in the new era of expanded legal sports betting across the United States.
“Baseball is one of the most popular sports to be on and partnering with MLB allows us to make the betting experience even better for our customers,” FanDuel Group President and COO Kip Levin said in a statement. “With an enhanced betting experience, sports fans are watching more baseball as they have a stake in the game.”
Increased fan engagement has long been touted as a benefit of daily fantasy sports and sports betting, which is a major reason why some leagues and teams have been quick to embrace partnerships with bookmakers.
Data May Boost In-Play Betting
From a sportsbook operator’s perspective, however, official league data isn’t necessary in order to run a successful business, as unofficial information has long been used to settle bets without controversy. But increasingly, there seems to be an acknowledgement that it does have value in one specific area: the ability to provide unique in-play betting experiences for customers.
While bookmakers already offer in-play betting for most major sports, using more detailed information provided by leagues could help operators create new markets on each plate appearance or even pitch. With enough data to fall back on, sportsbooks will be more comfortable offering a variety of bet types while knowing that they have the fastest and best data possible, allowing them to maintain an edge.
Improved in-play betting could be quite lucrative for operators. FanDuel says that in-play bets account for more than 50 percent of its total business, a number that is likely fueled by mobile betting, which accounts for about 80 percent of all handle in New Jersey.
FanDuel now has partnerships with a wide range of professional sports organizations. In addition to the new deal with MLB, it has also reached agreements with the NBA and NHL, as well as the Brooklyn Nets and New Jersey Devils.
The increasing frequency of these data rights partnerships may be a sign of a changing strategy on the part of professional sports leagues. While many leagues initially hoped to make money off the growing sports betting industry by collecting integrity fees, no state legislature has included such royalties when legalizing betting. MLB and other leagues had also hoped to mandate the use of official data, but have instead settled for reaching contractual agreements to sell that information to individual operators.