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NBA Signs Deal With Second Sports Betting Partner

Dec 11, 2018 11:44 AM EST
  • The Stars Group, a Canadian-based sports betting company, signed a deal with the NBA on Tuesday to become an "Authorized Gaming Operator" of the league.
  • Stars will get official data from the league and be able to use team and league trademarks.
  • Scott Kaufman-Ross, the NBA's head of fantasy and gaming, told The Action Network that the deal will not keep the NBA from pursuing integrity fees from states with pending legislation.

The NBA on Tuesday signed its second sports betting partner that will buy the official data to the league’s games and be able to use team and league trademarks.

The deal is with The Stars Group, a Canadian-based company that currently has an operating license in New Jersey under its BetStars brand.

BetStars will be called an “Authorized Gaming Operator” of the NBA, a designation that the league intends to sell to others.

The NBA was the first U.S. sports league to do an official deal with a betting partner, signing MGM as the “official gaming partner” in July. MGM went on to do similar deals with the NHL and Major League Baseball.

“This is the second company that has done a deal that has seen the value of working together with the league,” Scott Kaufman-Ross, the NBA’s head of fantasy and gaming, told The Action Network. “They’ve understood that, aside from the data, they get the rights to the marks and logos on their platform, which helps differentiate them from the offshore sites and others and leads to having a more authentic looking product.”

The deal includes promoting BetStars on NBA assets, including NBA.com. How intricately the NBA will promote odds available on the site is unknown, but the technology exists that will allow the league to geotarget so that odds can be shown to someone with an IP address of a state that has legalized gambling, while shielding the odds from a consumer in a non-legalized state.

The Stars Group spokesman Vaughan Lewis told The Action Network that the deal “further enhances consumer confidence in our offering and acts as an official endorsement of our sportsbook offering here in the States.”

Kaufman-Ross said that selling data is not taking the place of the league’s pursuit of an integrity fee, whereby the league would get a small percentage of the total handle bet on its games from operators.

“We will still pursue the so-called integrity fee in parallel,” Kaufman-Ross said. “We hope states will recognize the role we play in legislation.”

None of the eight states that currently offer legal sports betting pay the leagues an integrity fee. Washington D.C., which could legalize sports gambling next Tuesday, recently removed the integrity fee requirement. Some states, like Missouri, Kansas and Michigan, are currently debating whether they should set aside the fees from operators to go to leagues.

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