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Last Thursday, the Philadelphia Eagles scored two late fourth-quarter touchdowns to earn an improbable comeback victory over their division rival, the New York Giants. They finished that game with a score of 22 to the Giants’ 21.
But Pennsylvanians will be trying not to exceed 21 when they play the new Eagles-themed blackjack game at Unibet PA. It’s one of two games coming to the PA online casino using the Eagles’ brand, alongside a new slots title. According to Unibet, these are the first instances of such in-game applications of a professional sports sponsorship in the US.
Unibet is the flagship brand of the Kindred Group, which announced the new online casino games on Monday:
The games are the result of a collaboration between the Eagles, Unibet, and its technology provider Pala Interactive.
The announcement arrived just days after Kindred teased that Unibet and the Eagles would be expanding their partnership. The relationship began nearly a year ago and did not include sports betting, as the NFL did not allow its teams to form such partnerships at that time.
Last off-season the NFL altered its rules to allow teams to have sportsbook partners as well. Following that change, last week Unibet became the Eagles’ Official Sportsbook Partner as well as Official Casino Partner.
Eagles Blackjack is already available to play on the Unibet PA website and app. The game features the Eagles logo on the table and the backs of the cards. The team colors are also evident, with “Fly Eagles Fly” written across the felt.
The Eagles Online Slot is expected to launch later this year.
“I am extremely proud of the work done by both teams to release the first ever professional themed sports casino game in the United States,” said Manuel Stan, Senior Vice President of Kindred.
Catherine Carlson, the Eagles’ Senior VP of Revenue and Strategy, similarly praised the collaboration and Unibet’s innovation as having enabled the partners to “be on the forefront of industry firsts.”
The Philadelphia Eagles-themed blackjack and slot games are just the latest example of NFL branding turning up in the contexts of gambling and casinos.
Such partnerships date back more than a decade. The league first voted in 2009 to allow NFL franchises to partner with state lotteries.
More recently, U.S. Supreme Court’s May 2018 ruling to remove the federal ban against sports betting helped pave the way for several NFL franchises to partner with local casinos as corporate sponsors.
The Dallas Cowboys‘ partnership with WinStar World Casino in Oklahoma was the first such arrangement. Several other similar partnerships have followed since then, including one forged in December 2019 between Harrah’s Philadelphia and the Eagles.
As a result, Harrah’s Philadelphia branding regularly appears on the video board and elsewhere at Lincoln Financial Field. Meanwhile those gambling at Harrah’s may encounter Eagles logos on the tables and elsewhere.
Should the new games prove popular at Unibet PA, it could herald a new subcategory of pro sports team-themed online casino games.
DraftKings Casino has already moved in that direction with sports-themed casino games like Basketball Roulette and Touchdown Blackjack. Such games could take on branding from professional franchises located in states where legal online casinos operate.
The list of such states currently includes New Jersey and Pennsylvania, with Michigan online casinos likely coming in early 2021. Delaware and West Virginia also have online casinos, but no professional sports franchises.