About a week after reports of the partnership first hit the airwaves, licensed global gaming giant 888.com — which operates Internet-based poker, casino, and sports betting sites in New Jersey — has officially announced a pure-play online sponsorship deal with the New York Jets of the National Football League.
The Jets, which previously forged a gambling-related relationship with New Jersey bookmaker and nationwide DFS operator FanDuel, are further exhibiting clear support for legal and regulated gambling. Last week, the NFL franchise also inked a multi-year agreement with MGM, with the latter becoming the the team’s official gaming partner.
According to 888, the online sponsorship deal with the Jets is the first of its kind with a NFL franchise.
What 888 gets from the Jets
Thanks to the partnership, 888’s brand name will be widely seen by fans at MetLife Stadium during Jets games. That includes “red-zone” highlights, the Gibraltar-based company said.
Already some rather blatant signs of the partnership are on display in and around the facility:
NFL won’t allow Jets gambling sponsors to mention sports betting, but the presence is significant. 888 now has ads on six pylons outside stadium and is the scoreboard sponsor every time the team is in the Red Zone. pic.twitter.com/ediJhmSN3W
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) November 6, 2018
According to the presser, the deal is only for the ongoing NFL season, so it’s clear that both parties are giving it a trial run and could re-up later. They are surely monitoring the league’s reaction to the deal.
The online gambling platform is permitted to use the Jets brand in its own marketing materials. Furthermore, 888 will get adverts on Jets game day radio coverage and the team’s digital platforms. Finally, 888’s “premium customers” will have “access” to tickets to games at the East Rutherford, New Jersey stadium.
Yaniv Sherman, Head of Group Commercial Development at 888, called the Jets an “iconic” sports brand. “This sponsorship deal is a significant moment not just for 888.com but for the iGaming industry as it marks the first agreement between an NFL team and a global online operator,” he added.
888 hopes that the Jets partnership will help “strengthen” its brand as it embarks on efforts to be regulated in additional states. 888 is also currently up and running in Nevada and Delaware.
NFL still needs to grow up
Despite the progress the notoriously anti-gambling league has made since the U.S. Supreme Court kicked the federal ban on sports betting (PASPA) to the curb, the NFL won’t let the Jets’ new partner mention sports gambling on the MetLife Stadium video boards, or even outside of the stadium. The “888sport” brand is also nowhere to be seen — instead, it’s 888.com that’s propping up.
It’s a crafty way to circumvent the ban on sports betting advertisements, but expect some pushback from the NFL, which still wants state governments (and potentially the federal government) to mandate that the casino industry fork over a royalty for facilitating wagering on NFL contests. In New Jersey, 888casino and 888poker shares a platform with 888sport.
As mentioned, FanDuel and the Jets have a partnership. FanDuel has a sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack, a stone’s throw from MetLife Stadium.
What do the Jets get out of the deal?
It wasn’t disclosed how much money the Jets received from the sponsorship sale to 888, but we can assume that the deal will be rather lucrative for the franchise.
The Jets obviously have stronger brand awareness in the United States than 888. However, 888 will get a serious bump. On the Jets’ website for its Oct. 21 game against the Minnesota Vikings, the team told readers of its “gameday guide” to “download the 888 Gaming app to be entered to win autographed Jets merchandise and other great prizes.”
888’s online sportsbook will help grow fan engagement for the Jets. According to the American Gaming Association, the NFL could reap an additional $2.3 billion in revenue per year thanks to widespread sports betting. That’s without a camouflaged royalty that could doom regulated sports betting before the industry fully stands up.
Other NFL gambling deals
The partnership between the Jets and 888 is a first because of the online casino platform, but it isn’t groundbreaking in terms of a gambling relationship. In September, the Dallas Cowboys forged a similar deal with WinStar World Casino, a brick-and-mortar property in Oklahoma. In mid-October, the Baltimore Ravens and Horseshoe Casino Baltimore formed an alliance.
Neither Oklahoma nor Maryland have legal sports betting, but both will consider it next year.
In August, the NFL finally relaxed its rules pertaining to gambling partnerships, with the Dallas Cowboys becoming the first NFL team to partner up with a casino (WinStar World Casino and Resort) in early September.