December 18, 2018 / 4:38 PM / 5 months ago

NBA and Paddy Power's FanDuel to partner on U.S. sports betting

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The National Basketball Association and fantasy sports provider FanDuel Group, a unit of Paddy Power Betfair Plc (PPB.I), said on Tuesday they are expanding their existing partnership to include U.S. sports betting.

FILE PHOTO: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren pose at a news conference announcing a deal to partner on U.S. sports betting, in New York, U.S. July 31, 2018. REUTERS/Hilary Russ

The agreement makes FanDuel an authorized gaming partner of the NBA and allows the company to use the professional league’s official game data and logos across its sports betting products. Financial terms of the “multi-year” deal were not disclosed.

The past couple months have seen a spate of partnerships between U.S. professional sports leagues - though not yet the National Football League - and casinos and other sportsbook operators.

They come as companies and leagues jostle for position in the legal U.S. sports betting market. The casino industry has said $150 billion of illegal sports bets are placed annually.

A U.S. Supreme court decision in May threw out a 1992 ban, opening the door to any state that wants to legalize, regulate and tax sports wagering.

New Jersey was the first major state to have done so after the ruling.

The leagues had fought against the push to legalize sports betting, fearing an erosion in the integrity of their sports. But many have embraced it since the court ruling.

They have plenty to gain, particularly increased fan engagement, which can lead to growth in ticket and merchandise sales, among other revenue generators.

NBA data has already demonstrated the benefit of its tie-up with FanDuel’s InPlay real-time mobile fantasy game that synchronizes with live broadcasts. It shows that fans using InPlay watched a game 56 percent longer on average than those not playing the game.

The NBA first partnered with FanDuel in 2014 with daily fantasy sports, then broadened to include InPlay two years later.

The expanded partnership gives the NBA “more ability to innovate and experiment,” Scott Kaufman-Ross, the league’s head of fantasy and gaming, told Reuters.

The agreement is the third of its kind for the NBA, following sports betting partnerships with casino operator MGM Resorts International (MGM.N) and The Stars Group Inc. (TSGI.TO).

Last month, FanDuel became an official sports betting partner with the National Hockey League.

Tuesday’s deal is about “being able to deliver the best product to the marketplace,” FanDuel Chief Executive Matt King told Reuters.

FanDuel operates sportsbooks in New Jersey and West Virginia.

Initial growth of the industry in New Jersey has been explosive, with $928 million of total sports wagers placed with all sportsbooks in just its first six months of legal betting.

Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editign by Bill Berkrot

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