The NBA announced Tuesday that they had reached a deal with MGM Resorts International to make the Las Vegas casino giant its official gambling partner, the first such arrangement for a major professional sports league in the United States.

NBA MGM betting partnership
The NBA and MGM Resorts announced a partnership that will make MGM the pro basketball league’s official betting partner. (Image: Nick M. Do/Getty)

The agreement will see MGM become the official gaming partner of both the NBA and the WNBA, and will allow the gambling operator to use highlights, logos and a direct data feed from the NBA in its sportsbooks and online betting products.

ESPN cited industry sources as saying that the deal would be for three years and a minimum of $25 million.

In a statement, NBA commissioner Adam Silver called the deal a “groundbreaking partnership.”

“Our collaboration will result in the best possible gaming and entertainment experience for consumers through the use of accurate, real-time NBA and WNBA data,” Silver said.

MGM Gains Brand Exposure

The deal has obvious benefits for MGM. As part of the agreement, MGM Resorts will see its brand promoted by one of the world’s largest sports organizations, particularly on its digital assets such as NBA TV and, as well as on social media.

At a time when the legal sports landscape is only starting to take shape in the United States, that sort of brand exposure could give MGM a huge leg up in acquiring customers. If NBA fans in states with legalized sports betting think of MGM first for sports betting, the benefits could far exceed the costs for the company.

“The NBA has always been an innovator at the forefront of sports evolution, and MGM Resorts is thrilled to partner with the league to revolutionize sports betting in the United States,” MGM Resorts chairman and CEO Jim Murren said in a statement. “Integrating the NBA’s assets and having official NBA data showcased across the MGM Resorts platforms will provide us with a distinct advantage and instill more confidence in knowing that our data is directly from the NBA.”

NBA Toes in Sports Betting Waters

While the benefits may not be quite as obvious for the NBA, the move keeps the league on the forefront of sports betting in the United States, a step ahead of the NFL, MLB, and other leagues. The NBA will be able to experiment with strategies for utilizing sports betting as a way to keep viewers interested in games without overwhelming them with gambling-related content.

The short, relatively low-value nature of the partnership also means that both sides can enter into this deal with minimal risk. Three years down the line, both sides will have a better idea of just how valuable such an arrangement is ahead of future negotiations.

Other than making MGM the official gambling partner of the NBA, the remainder of the deal is not exclusive, meaning that the league could reach data sharing agreements with other betting operators as well.

The use of official data has been one of several points made by the NBA and other leagues as a step that’s necessary to ensure the integrity of both games and betting markets.

The NBA has also lobbied for a royalty, known as an integrity fee, on bets placed on league competitions. So far, no state has included such a fee in its sports betting regulations.