As the state of Texas continues flirting with the idea of legalizing sports betting and other types of gambling, sportsbooks and casino companies are not waiting. All across the state, professional sports teams are partnering with gaming companies.
Optimism grows for legal sports betting in Texas
Polls have shown that the majority of Texans support legalized sports betting in Texas or are indifferent to it. A recent PlayTexas survey shows that 67% of Texans support expanding legal gambling. Most support sports betting in some form. Texas lawmakers, though, have not shown the same degree of support.
Fortunately, there are a few positive signs. State Sen. Carol Alvarado has reintroduced legislation to legalize casinos and sports betting in Texas. Sen. Lois Kolkhorst and Rep. Jeff Leach, with the support of the Texas Sports Betting Alliance, have introduced online-only sports betting legislation.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he would be open to discussing the case for casinos, and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is strongly advocating for legalized sports betting in The Lone Star State. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is the major holdout here, and the hope is that some of the state’s top sports team owners could sway him to give sports betting expansion a chance.
Teams not waiting for betting to become legal
San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs of the NBA have partnered with bet365. This is the first partnership between bet365 and any team in the NBA. Congruently, this is the Spurs’ first time partnering with a betting company.
Since it is illegal to bet on sports in Texas, bet365 has created a free-to-play game where fans make predictions to earn credits. With those credits, players are able to enter raffles for all kinds of prizes, ranging from court-side seats to team jerseys and everything in between. The name of the game is “Call Your Shot.”
Chief Revenue Officer for Spurs Sports and Entertainment Frank Miceli said the partnership was made to enhance fan experience.
“Finding groundbreaking and exciting ways to engage with our fans has long been a priority for our organization. Our partnership with bet365 is a part of our vision to provide innovative and memorable experiences for Spurs fans everywhere.”
Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros announced on May 9 that the team has partnered with BetMGM as their exclusive sports betting partner. This is BetMGM’s first partnership in the state of Texas.
The deal includes a permanent outfield wall sign as well as promotional content rotation behind home plate. Astros fans will also benefit thanks to opportunities to take part in VIP experiences exclusive to BetMGM customers, such as throwing out the first pitch at a game and trips to see the Astros play on the road. BetMGM will also feature special betting promotions to customers in Louisiana.
Houston Astros Vice President and General Counsel Giles Kibbe is excited about the partnership.
“We are looking forward to our partnership with BetMGM, As we continue to strive for new ways to add to the fan experience, this partnership will provide another way for the Astros to engage with our fans.”
The Dallas Mavericks of the NBA formed a multi-year partnership with Betway to become the exclusive free-to-play partner of the team on Oct. 14, 2021. Betway, which the Mavs refer to as “the leading global online betting and gaming brand,” locked in significant branding rights to display their brandings around the court at American Airlines Center.
The deal was Betway’s fifth partnership with an NBA franchise. Since then, the sportsbook has added four more NBA partnerships. Besides the Mavs, Betway has deals with the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Dallas Mavericks Senior Vice President of Corporate Sponsorships Ryan Mackey pointed out the frustrations of not having legal sports betting in Texas.
“Betway has been a phenomenal partner from the beginning, working with us to navigate this industry in a state where there are still many uncertainties yet potential for massive growth. We look forward to providing tremendous value to both Betway and our fans.”
On Aug. 12, 2021, the Houston Texans of the NFL made Caesars Entertainment their official casino partner. Part of the agreement includes Caesars hosting a free-to-play “Schedule Pick ‘Em” game which is available on the Texans’ mobile app.
To play, fans submit matchup predictions leading up to the release of the NFL schedule. Winners earn game tickets, signed memorabilia and other prizes. Additionally, Caesars rewards will be included in the Texans promotional channels, signage, as well as digital and traditional media.
Houston Texans President Greg Grissom said at the time of the partnership that the team made the deal for fans.
“I am thrilled to launch this multi-year partnership with Caesars Entertainment. It aligns perfectly with our commitment to creating memorable experiences for our fans.”
The Houston Rockets’ deal with DraftKings Sports is a unique one. On Aug. 19, 2021, DraftKings agreed to buy Golden Nuggets Online Gaming from Fertitta Entertainment, Inc. in an all-stock purchase worth more than $1.5 billion.
In the deal, DraftKings also entered into a commercial agreement with Fertitta to become the Rockets’ exclusive daily fantasy sports, sports betting and iGaming partner. Eventually, if legalization of sports betting does indeed happen in Texas, DraftKings has plans to open a sportsbook at the Toyota Center where the Rockets play.
At the time of the deal, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said it was a partnership between two big entertainment companies.
“This transaction will add great value to the shareholders as two market leaders merge into a leading global player in digital sports, entertainment and online gaming. Leveraging Fertitta Entertainment’s broad entertainment offerings and extensive customer database, coupled with DraftKings’ mammoth network, makes this an unbeatable partnership. Together, we can offer value to our combined customer base that is unparalleled.”
The Dallas Cowboys were the first NFL team to partner with a casino back in 2018, soon after the law changed to allow betting and casinos outside Nevada, New Jersey and tribal lands. The Cowboys partnered with WinStar World Casino and Resort, which is located in Oklahoma.
It’s well known that the casino is popular with Dallas gamblers.
Houston Dynamo FC
Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo Football Club partnered with Fubo Gaming on Jan. 20. The partnership also includes the Houston Dash of the National Women’s Soccer League. The partnership ended in October with the sudden dissolution of Fubo sportsbook.
Austin Football Club, an MLS Cup semifinalist last year made a deal with PointsBet which not only gives PointsBet an exclusive and long-term deal, but also gives it rights as a founding partner of Austin FC, who were in their inaugural season when the agreement was struck. PointsBet is currently considering offloading its US arm of its business. How this will influence their partnership with Austin FC is yet to be seen.
Panther City Lacrosse Club
Fort Worth’s Panther City Lacrosse Club of the National Lacrosse League partnered with PlayUp, a next generation entertainment and technology group. PlayUp will be the official sports wagering partner and, like PointsBet’s deal with Austin FC, it gives PlayUp the status of a founding partner.