In the first deal of its kind in Texas, the Houston Astros signed a partnership Monday with BetMGM. This makes the operator the team’s official sports betting partner.
This may appear to be a strange partnership considering the prevailing anti-gaming sentiment in the Texas legislature. However, BetMGM’s partnership allows them to make inroads with their online sportsbook in neighboring Louisiana, where rival online sportsbooks are currently fighting to gain a foothold.
Further, in the lead-up to Texas’s 2023 legislative session, BetMGM’s deal gets them on the ground should the Lone Star State decide to legalize sports betting.
BetMGM’s presence in Minute Maid Park
Currently, what this deal means for Astros fans in Texas is not much beyond the stadium experience. The Astros give BetMGM the following as part of the deal:
- Prominent signage at Minute Maid Park
- A rotating message board behind the home plate
- VIP experiences for BetMGM members, like throwing out the first pitch and on-field access during batting practice
- VIP getaways to away games
This partnership marks BetMGM’s first deal in Texas. It makes them the second team in the state to partner with a sportsbook. In August of last year, the Houston Texans and Caesars signed a multi-year deal.
BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt reacted to the deal, stating:
“The Houston Astros are a monumental addition to our portfolio of strategic partnerships with professional sports teams across the U.S. The organization’s passionate fan base will be key to the growth of BetMGM throughout the South as we look for new ways to engage fans with unique experiences that go beyond the game.”
Capitalizing on the broad Astros market
The competition between BetMGM and Caesars extends into the Louisiana gaming landscape as well.
Currently, Caesars has an extensive deal with the Saints including the naming rights to the Superdome. The first stadium in the country named after a sports betting company. They also have an exclusive partnership with LSU. In the NBA, the Pelicans have deals with FanDuel, BetRivers, and Harrah’s.
BetMGM’s deal with the Astros lands them a puddle-jumper flight away from the Superdome in a baseball market that reaches into Louisiana and has historical roots with New Orleans. For practical purposes, baseball fans in Louisiana are currently blacked out from watching “in-market” Astros games.
Historically, Louisiana tends to split allegiances a number of ways, with the Braves and the Astros being the most common affiliations. This affiliation runs much deeper with Houston, a deep south hub that vied with New Orleans for a major league baseball team.
When Houston got a major league team (the Colt. 45s in 1962 becoming the Astros in 1965) New Orleans fans who had never had access to major league baseball due to segregation laws forged a connection. While some New Orleanians lean more towards the Braves, they were a northern relocation project. The Astros were southern to the core.
For Astros fans in Louisiana, the BetMGM deal allows them to benefit from betting on their team from the comfort of their couch. Should Texas legalize sports gambling in the future, though, a firm Astros fan base exists right across the border. And, they’re waiting to come to the ballpark and spend their money gambling on the Astros on Texas soil.