MGM Resorts International made yet another sports betting splash last week, striking a deal with the National Basketball Association (NBA) to provide proprietary data to bettors.

By becoming the “official sports betting partner” of the NBA, MGM Resorts gains access to the Sportradar, a Swiss firm specializing in the collection and analysis of sports stats and data. Currently, Sportradar distributes NBA data to media organizations, TV and radio broadcasters, and sportsbook operators outside of the United States.

The new deal will see Sportradar send its treasure trove of NBA data to an American sports betting operator for the first time.

Silver and Mullen Issue Joint Statement

In a statement announcing the partnership NBA commissioner Adam Silver framed the arrangement as a necessary step in protecting bettors and bookmakers alike:

“MGM Resorts is a proven gaming leader for us to work with on this 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, and our collective efforts to maintain and enhance the integrity of our games.”

Jim Murren, the chairman and chief executive officer of MGM Resorts, also referenced consumer confidence in his remarks:

“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.

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.”

Partnership May Replace the “Integrity Fee”

While the financial details behind the deal have yet to be released, MGM Resorts will be paying the NBA for its statistical data, along with the use of NBA branding and logos.

The deal’s duration is likewise undefined, but the joint statement did refer to it as a “multiyear” agreement – albeit one that is not exclusive. As such, the NBA is free to pursue similar partnerships with other major American sports betting operators in the future.

According to Scott Kaufman-Ross – who serves as the NBA’s vice president and head of fantasy & gaming – the primary motivator for such partnerships is balancing the cost of so-called “integrity monitoring.”

In an interview with Matt Moore of the Action Network, Kaufman-Ross pointed out that newly regulated sports betting markets in states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Mississippi require the NBA to step up its internal monitoring of game integrity issues. During the runup to the Supreme Court’s repeal of the federal sports betting ban, Silver and the NBA led the charge for an “integrity fee,” or a tax levied on sportsbook operators by the state on behalf of professional leagues.

That integrity fee was floated at 0.25 percent of a sportsbook’s handle, or the total amount wagered by bettors, but New Jersey lawmakers flatly rejected the notion in a fiery speech

During a conference call with reporters, Murren made it clear that MGM Resorts would be paying the NBA for its data, so the integrity fee may have survived, albeit in different form:

“I know the value of data. To be able to have the official NBA data for sports bettors around the world is very valuable. I was willing to, and I’ve paid for that.

My overarching objective is the integrity of the game.”

Silver also pointed to the give and take required to balance the economic scales:

“We understood the value of our marks, of official designation.

But I think then in terms of the data we’re providing, we have a sense of the magnitude of the current business and a sense of where things may go over the next few years.

And I’d say we generally tried to approximate in a sense to come up with what we thought was fair compensation.”

Jonathan Zaun

One of Gamble Online's first dedicated reporters, Jonathan has spent well over a decade reporting on the gaming industry. While breaking legal news is his main area of expertise, Jonathan is an avid blackjack player & strategist who follows professional poker closely.

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