The Baltimore Ravens and BetMGM Reach an Agreement on Sports Betting
The Baltimore Ravens have announced that they have entered into a multi-year agreement with BetMGM, making the leading betting and digital gaming company the first Official Gaming Partner of the NFL franchise. The agreement initially involves marketing and signage at M&T Bank Bank Stadium, the team’s home stadium, as well as a presence in digital and social media content.
The state of Maryland recently legalized sports betting when Governor Larry Hogan signed legislation passed by the legislature following approval by Maryland’s voters in last November’s general election. Maryland is expected to approve as many as 60 licenses to operate online and retail sportsbooks, but until final regulations are issued, and the application process is initiated, potential operators like the Baltimore Ravens and BetMGM cannot formalize anything beyond a marketing relationship.
The Baltimore Ravens are one of three Big Four professional sports franchises that have stadiums in Maryland, along with the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Football Team. The Maryland legislation will allow arenas and stadiums to operate sportsbooks, following behind the District of Columbia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and a few other jurisdictions with similar policies.
With the Ravens partnership, BetMGM has positioned itself to join Caesars Entertainment and FanDuel in entering agreements to operate the arena and stadium-based sportsbooks in collaboration with professional sports franchises. For those who have been following the world of sports betting for more than the three years since the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, the concept of wagers on sporting events being placed in the very venue where games are taking place is almost unbelievable.
As little as five or six years ago, leagues such as the NFL were publicly stating that gambling posed a huge threat to the competitive integrity of their games, yet privately appeasing parties that benefited from league policies such as the publishing of injury reports. At least now, the hypocrisy has been stripped away in favor of pure profit, with the leagues and sports franchises recognizing the huge revenue that can be generated by participating in legal sports wagering activities.
While Maryland has taken the stance of making sure as many parties as possible get a bite of what is considered a huge sports betting apple, the number of licenses they are willing to grant could serve as a disincentive to many of the major operators they hope to attract to the state. Even though the popularity and growth of the industry is on the rise, it’s still has a limited audience, and Maryland runs the risk of over-saturating the market with three times the sportsbook locations of any other state that has legalized the activity.
While there are three major league venues in Maryland, two of them, Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium, are within sight of each other in downtown Baltimore. Factor in Pimlico Race Course in the same city along with mobile and online access, and there becomes a real question of whether the competing locations can generate enough action to justify their retail operations.