Monday 17th June 2019

NBA, MGM Resorts Partner on Use of Official Data for Sports Betting

NBA, MGM Resorts Partner on Use of Official Data for Sports Betting

NBA, MGM Resorts Partner on Use of Official Data for Sports Betting
LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers defended by Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors during Game Four of the 2018 NBA Finals. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The NBA has become the first U.S. professional sports league to name an official gaming partner in MGM Resorts, setting a precedent for leagues to receive compensation for official data.

Commissioner Adam Silver hailed the multi-year deal as “historic” in a press conference in New York City on Tuesday, and the agreement signals a victory in the first skirmish of the brewing war over the use of official data to power sports betting in the U.S. MGM Resorts will receive real-time data feeds for NBA and WNBA games, and the NBA will in turn have access to anonymized bettor account information.

“My overarching objective is the integrity of the game, and I know the value of data,” said MGM Resorts international chairman and CEO Jim Murren. “To be able to have the official NBA data for sports bettors around the world is very valuable.”

The NBA has spearheaded a lobbying effort for sports leagues to receive a so-called integrity fee from gambling operators for use of their intellectual property and to cover the costs of increased monitoring efforts. As that push has not gained much traction in state legislatures, leagues have shifted the focus to earning royalties for official data. 

“Ultimately, it was on us to convince MGM that there was a commercial benefit to compensating us for that data,” Silver said. “This wasn’t just about doing the right thing in terms of intellectual property, but that through this relationship with the NBA and WNBA, Jim could differentiate his business from his competitors.”

Terms were not formally disclosed, but ESPN’s Darren Rovell reported that the agreement is worth $25 million over three years. Silver and Murren acknowledged that some details of the agreement remain to be settled. MGM Resorts’ designation as “official gaming partner” is exclusive, but the NBA is free to license its data to other sportsbooks. Globally, Sportradar is the NBA’s official data provider, but the agreement excludes the sharing of betting data within the U.S. Silver said MGM Resorts would receive its data either directly from the league or through an as-yet-undetermined third party.

Exactly which data is included in the agreement is also to be determined. When asked if Second Spectrum’s optical player tracking data will be included, Silver said “some” of it will eventually be shared but not immediately.

“It’s unclear how that data might be used in some sort of proposition bet or in-play bet. I think that’s something we have to work out—again, how those bets would be verified, how that data would be provided,” Silver said, before adding: “My sense is, initially, it probably would not include Second Spectrum data, but I think it’s something that, as we build what the appropriate data fields are for gaming over time, that’s something we’ll continue to look at.”

On Monday, MGM Resorts agreed to a separate partnership with U.K.-based GVC Holdings on a 50-50 joint venture to develop a digital sports betting platform in the U.S. Delaware, New Jersey, and Mississippi have all joined Nevada in legalizing sports betting. Historically, Nevada bookmakers have not used official data, although official data is used in the U.K. and Australia. New York and Missouri have considered requiring official data, but neither has passed any legislation. The American Gaming Association opposes any law that mandates official data, preferring leagues and sportsbooks sort out such contracts on their own.

Murren said how the official NBA data will be used is a topic to be settled by the joint venture with GVC. He added that the MGM-owned Borgata in Atlantic City will begin accepting mobile bets later this week through the PlayMGM app. Murren emphasized the need for good brands and market access to make sports betting viable in the U.S.

“We also needed the best possible technology and the best in-game betting experience, which we get with GVC, and now we have tremendous data, analytics, and information from the NBA,” he said. “That will determine who wins and loses in this arena—the sports betting arena in the United States—and I think MGM is going to win.”

MGM Resorts is already the owner of the Las Vegas Aces, a WNBA expansion team, and the leading sponsor of the NBA Summer League. All games in the summer circuit are played at T-Mobile Arena, of which MGM is a part-owner.

Related

  • Sports Betting and Biometrics Will Push the Publicity Rights Envelope

  • Marshall Head Coach Dan D’Antoni Is Right About Three-Pointers

  • The NBA’s Vision For The Broadcast Of The Future

  • NBA’s Tech EVP Presents Long-Term Vision For Wearables

  • San Jose Earthquakes To Use Second Spectrum AI To Track Players

Must read×