The partnership – without precedent in the history of American online gambling – should be a massive boon for PartyPoker, their New Jersey partner Borgata and the regulated online gambling market in NJ as a whole.
But beyond those benefits lies another: the deal will likely accelerate online gambling regulation in other states.
Here are three quick reasons why.
While full terms of the deal were not disclosed, it’s hard to imagine two top-tier professional sports teams coming on board for chump change.
For context, some of bwin.party’s international sports sponsorships – such as their exclusive partnership with Manchester United – are eight-figure affairs.
Putting that sort of money in play expands the roster of interest for regulated online gambling. And once that roster expands beyond casinos and their supporters into spheres such as sports, entertainment and retail, regulation becomes a far easier sell economically and politically.
While the line between regulated and unregulated online gambling couldn’t be clearer to those immersed in the industry, that line is fuzzy – or even nonexistent – for the average American.
After years of hearing little else but talk of Ponzi schemes and federal indictments when the topic of online gambling was raised in the mainstream media, it’s easy to see why someone on the periphery of the industry would simply assume that all online gambling is grey market (or black market) activity.
But deals like this, and the coverage they generate, can correct those misimpressions and help make that line clear.
And as that line gets clearer, support for, and use of, regulated online gambling options will increase.
The most significant impact of New Jersey launching regulated iGaming was to shift the concept of state-licensed online gambling from the hypothetical to the actual. It made passing similar laws a far easier task for politicians in other states; get all of the reward with little of the risk that comes with being a trailblazer.
Party’s partnerships with the Sixers and Devils are a step down a similar path for public acceptance of state-regulated Internet gambling.
After all, if any American institution can be classified as truly ubiquitous, it’s professional sports. And even just a bit of that halo shining on regulated online gambling would represent a massive advance for the nascent industry.
Think about the impact of images like these on the cultural status of regulated online gambling:
— Mike Sexton (@Mike_partypoker) January 9, 2014
… and the thousands of variations that millions of Americans will be exposed to over the course of the deal.
That’s not to say that the partnerships guarantee support for online gambling regulation, only that they contribute to a world where the issue is less of an radical unknown and more just one among the thousands of issues that comprise America’s political landscape.
To wit: Is regulated online gambling more publicly and politically palatable in Pennsylvania once PartyPoker becomes a presence on the Sixers’ social feeds, TV and radio broadcasts and on the court itself?
I’d argue that it certainly is.