MGM Signs Sports Betting Partnership Deal with Major League Soccer

Posted on: March 19, 2019, 09:24h. 

Last updated on: March 19, 2019, 09:24h.

MGM Resorts has signed a four-year deal with MLS that will see the operator become the league’s “official sports betting partner.”

Soccer may be a fringe sport in the US, but its growing. A record 1.56 million people tuned into watch Atlanta United take on the Seattle Sounders last season (pictured). (Image: Jason Getz/USA TODAY)

It marks the fourth major sports league — if MLS can be accurately described as such — to partner with the casino giant since the striking down by the US Supreme Court of PASPA, the federal ban on state-sanctioned sports betting, last May.

The NFL chose Caesars as a casino partner, but that deal does not extend to anything to do with sports betting.

The new deal resembles those signed by NBA, MLB and the NHL in that it will give MGM marketing rights — although not exclusively — to use the league’s logo and branding in its land-based and online sports betting operations.

Sports books in Las Vegas tend to skirt copyright violation issues by using euphemistic terms like “pro soccer betting” but MGM can now proudly offer “MLS betting” at its operations across the country. Meanwhile, MGM will be permitted field-level advertising at MLS stadiums.

MGM will also receive official access to MLS data for use in betting products, which will eventually allow it to create a real-time MLS in-game betting experience on its digital platform, MGMPlay, complete with live data stream.

Do Americans Bet on MLS?

It’s difficult to know how many Americans bet on MLS since data from Nevada’s sports books — and more recently New Jersey’s — combine all soccer betting revenue under the title “other” — along with anything else that is not football, basketball, or baseball — such as hockey, golf, and NASCAR. That should tell you all you need to know.

But while viewing figures for sports like MLB and NASCAR are dropping off, interest in MLS is increasing, Viewership for the 2018 season was up 6 percent year-over-year, while overall paid attendance at games reached a record high, according to recent figures from the league.

Some 1.56 million people tuned in to Fox Sports to watch Atlanta United take on the Seattle Sounders last season — a single-game record.

MLS Early Supporter of Sports Betting

Soccer remains a fringe sport in the US, but if more people are watching it stands to reason that more people will be betting on it too. MLS Commissioner DON Garber hopes that the liberalization of sports betting will only help increase engagement in soccer, which after all is the most bet-upon sport in the world.

Garber was quick to spot the opportunities that the rejection of PASPA might bring to soccer in the US. In 2017, he told Yahoo Finance that the league’s shorter history and smaller size could help it blaze a trail in a future sports betting market.

“One of the only values of being the youngest major league here, and sometimes being under the radar… is I think it gives us the opportunity to push the envelope,” said Garber. “I do believe that we could lead this effort, because I don’t know that everybody will see soccer as having the same challenges that perhaps would exist if the NFL was going to come out in support of it.”