The relationship between sports betting and Major League Baseball really has changed over the last few years. The advent of daily fantasy sites, like DraftKings and FanDuel, brought a barrage of advertising to MLB, but betting on sports was still gauche.
Fantasy baseball had been happening forever, so MLB was perfectly content supporting and even encouraging that method of gambling. Sports betting, though, was still the elephant in the room that was forced to sit there while the league built walls around it to try and put it out of sight and out of mind.
My, how things have changed. Baseball, like the other major professional leagues, is now all-in on sports betting. With a true “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mindset, the leagues are now using gambling to their advantage, even fostering partnerships on a league and also a team level.
We talked recently about how the Denver Broncos had been racking up gambling partners in Colorado. The Detroit Tigers have done the same in the state of Michigan. Interestingly, Michigan does not have online and mobile betting as of yet, but online operator PointsBet has forged a relationship with the Tigers to “enhance fan engagement”.
PointsBet USA CEO Johnny Aitken said of the partnership, “The PointsBet team is excited to announce our groundbreaking deal with the Detroit Tigers and Major League Baseball, becoming the first legal sports betting operator in US history to partner with an MLB franchise. We offer the most betting options in the world on MLB games via our unique PointsBetting product, and we are excited to inject a unique and robust betting proposition into the great state of Michigan.”
The Australian-based PointsBet wasted no time setting up shop in Michigan. On December 20, 2019, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the sports betting legislation into law. On January 6, PointsBet came to an agreement with the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians to gain access to online and mobile betting with one of the licenses through that tribe.
The Lac Vieux Desert Northern Waters Casino Resort is the property through which PointsBet’s online and mobile operations will run. A retail sportsbook is also in the works.
Recently, MLB announced that PointsBet would be an official Authorized Gaming Operator, which gave PointsBet the right to use licensed MLB logos and trademarks. This deal with the Tigers will get PointsBet advertising around the ballpark and also some media mentions on Tigers radio and TV broadcasts.
This is the first official partnership between a sports betting operator and an MLB franchise, but it will not be the last.