PokerStars, FanDuel become the official sports betting partners of the Toronto Maple Leafs

FanDuel, PokerStars Collaborate For The First Time In North America

For the first time in North America, two big brands in Flutter Entertainment‘s portfolio joined forces. Flutter announced today that PokerStars and FanDuel struck a deal to be the “official sports betting” partners of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE). The latter brand may be best known for its NHL team, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Dublin-based Flutter is the primary owner of FanDuel, which is the No. 1 sports betting app in the US.

FanDuel Sportsbook also launched on Monday during the first day of the privatized iGaming marketplace in Ontario. PokerStars, the top online poker product in Flutter’s portfolio, is operating in Ontario’s gray market until it receives regulatory approval from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).

Why Flutter brands working together is a big deal

Flutter watchers expected the gaming giant to spin off FanDuel in a US IPO last year, which never happened. FanDuel may still eventually go public. In the meantime, it’s interesting to see Flutter tie FanDuel to another one of its brands in a way that may last for years.

Flutter emphasized the precedent today in FanDuel and PokerStars press releases about the MLSE deal:

“PokerStars and FanDuel Join Forces to Strike Major Partnership Deal with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment: First Deal in North America Featuring Multiple Flutter Entertainment plc Brands.”

In the US, speculation about possible FanDuel-PokerStars crossovers have abounded since the latter’s acquisition by Flutter in 2019.

For instance, online poker is legal in Connecticut, but there are only two iGaming operators allowed in the state. Neither DraftKings nor the Mohegan-FanDuel partnership have a poker product of their own. For that reason, some have wondered whether a FanDuel-branded, PokerStars-powered poker room might be an option for Mohegan Sun.

PokerStars, FanDuel have different roles with the MLSE

FanDuel Sportsbook will be MLSE’s sports betting partner and PokerStars its “official gaming partner.”

First though, PokerStars needs to be approved by AGCO and execute an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario (iGO), as FanDuel’s already done.

Meanwhile, Canadians need to get ready for the marketing and advertising.

Today’s announcement read:

“This partnership, a first of its kind for Flutter Entertainment plc in North America, offers FanDuel and PokerStars an opportunity to showcase their brands to some of the most loyal sports fans in Canada.

“In addition to the use of MLSE team marks in advertising and marketing, FanDuel Sportsbook, PokerStars Casino and PokerStars will be featured prominently throughout Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors games, including rink board and on-court signage. The partnership will also allow FanDuel Sportsbook and PokerStars to collaborate on marketing integrations with all of MLSE’s teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC, Toronto Argonauts and Toronto Marlies.”

- Heather Fletcher is the lead writer with OnlinePokerReport. She's a career journalist, with bylines in The New York Times, Adweek and other publications. Reach her at [email protected]
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