William Hill Named ‘Official Betting Partner’ of NBA

One of the ways that the North American professional sports leagues have found to bilk money out of sports betting is with the ‘official betting partner’ designation. The deal works like this–gaming companies fork over a lot of money to one of the leagues that fought to keep the US in the sports betting dark ages for decades. In return, the betting companies get…uh…something. Typically, it involves use of league logos and trademarks, official betting data and a bunch of corporate buzzwords like ‘exploring mutual synergies’ and ‘scaling industry standard best practices’.

To be fair, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been sounding conciliatory tones toward sports betting since he took the gig in 2014. Late last week, William Hill became the fourth official betting partner of the NBA joining MGM Resorts, FanDuel and The Stars Group. In a press release, the NBA explained what William Hill will get out of the deal:

“As part of the agreement, William Hill will have the right to use official NBA betting data and league marks across its mobile platforms and in its sports books throughout the United States.  Additionally, William Hill will be promoted across the NBA’s digital assets including NBA.com, the NBA app, and the NBA’s social media platforms.”

Scott Kaufman-Ross, Senior Vice President, Head of Fantasy & Gaming for the NBA, got to give the obligatory positive spin quote in the press release:

“William Hill is a globally respected brand that has set an early standard for sports betting in the U.S. market. We are delighted to partner with William Hill as they grow their business throughout the U.S. and are excited to work together to provide a world-class experience to our fans.”

Dan Shapiro, Vice President of Strategy & Business Development of William Hill US, gave the positive spin quote for his company:

“We are proud of this creative partnership that benefits our customers and our partners nationwide while promoting legalized wagering on NBA events. The NBA has been a leader in recognizing the benefits of a legal sports betting market. We expect this to be the beginning of a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the league and its teams.”

What doesn’t get mentioned in the press release–the NBA will get a de facto ‘royalty’ based on betting volume on games:

While exact terms of the agreement were not announced, Bill King of Sports Business Journal reports that it’s worth seven figures. As a comparison, the league’s agreement with MGM was expected to reach at least $25 million. William Hill will crucially get access to official betting data from the league, while the NBA will get a cut of their bets based on volume, a “royalty” of sorts for use of its intellectual property.

This quote also begs another question–what does MGM get for $25 million compared to what William Hill gets for their ‘seven figure’ check?

About the Author: Jim Murphy

For more than 25 years, Jim Murphy has written extensively on gambling theory and practice. Jim Murphy has been quoted in media from the Wall Street Journal to REASON Magazine. Murphy worked as a radio and podcasting host broadcasting to an international audience that depended on his expertise and advice.