Madison Square Garden Makes DraftKings Its Sports Betting Vendor Brand

Written By Derek Helling on January 21, 2020
Madison Square Garden has made DraftKings its official sports betting partner, opening up opportunities for a lot of collaborations.

Madison Square Garden is at the forefront of sports betting, even if the state of New York isn’t. If the legal situation in the Empire State ever joins the 21st century, the company will be ready to take advantage.

Right now, the DraftKings-MSG partnership is limited to in-game activations and signage. The future could encompass much more, however.

How Madison Square Garden is on the cutting edge

While many professional sports leagues and teams have designated official daily fantasy games providers, few have gone this route for sports betting. By expanding its existing relationship with DraftKings to include sports betting, the MSG company is among the first to do so.

This relationship extends to the New York Knicks and New York Rangers. Each team plays their home games at the Garden.

This announcement is remarkable considering the fact that up until 2018, the NBA and NHL were part of a lawsuit that sought to keep sports betting illegal in most of the country. Now less than two years later, a franchise in both of those leagues will promote a sportsbook during its home games.

The partnership could entail so much more than a DraftKings logo on GardenVision, however. The biggest obstacle is state law.

How gambling law in New York is a big obstacle

Currently, New York state law restricts legal sports betting to brick-and-mortar sportsbooks at the upstate commercial casinos. The state’s tribal casinos can offer the same through their gaming compacts as well.

While it’s possible that those tribal casinos may be able to offer online betting even if that remains illegal in the Empire State, that’s still up in the air right now. Conflicting court precedents muddle that, but a bill in Congress could clarify it in the affirmative.

Outside of that possibility, there’s no path forward for online sportsbooks in New York right now. Albany needs to change the state’s law, whether through a constitutional amendment or a simple statute.

While DraftKings waits for that to happen, it can only dream of what could be. If and when the legal situation changes, there is a lot of potential for this partnership.

What could be at all MSG events if the law ever changes

If online sports betting ever becomes legal in New York, expect DraftKings to move quickly. The Garden will be part of those plans.

In-game activations will likely include marketing to entice event attendees to register for DraftKings Sportsbook. That should extend to deposit bonuses, odds boosts and lost bet guarantees.

Additionally, if the law allows, DraftKings could put a retail sportsbook inside the venue. That’s already happening at a similar venue, Capital One Arena. That arena is home to the NBA’s Washington Wizards, NHL’s Washington Capitals and WNBA’s Washington Mystics.

While Knicks and Rangers games will represent the target demographic for DraftKings, the marketing could cover all events at the Garden. When all these circumstances could become reality is largely out of the hands of both of these companies.

While this sponsorship is a natural fit for both companies, the limitations are a great representation of how the current law in New York puts its citizens and their businesses at a competitive disadvantage. Hopefully, this will spur more New Yorkers to press for change.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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