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Will New NFL Rules Allowing Casino Partnerships Have Jets Fans Saying B-E-T-S?

Officials in New York failed to act on sports betting this year, but the state’s professional franchises still have a chance to capitalize on the industry.

The New York Jets are reportedly shopping around for a casino to serve as their official partner this season. Any such deal would likely involve a property that offers sports betting, none of which are located in NY.

Rumors surfaced in the wake of a decision by NFL owners to allow casino sponsorship for the first time. This initial report comes from the NY Post, citing a source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

The Jets are one of three NFL teams that call NY home.

New York Jets shopping for casino partner?

Although the Jets fly the New York flag, they actually play their home games across the border in New Jersey. The young NJ sports betting industry has gone mobile, allowing folks at MetLife Stadium to wager on the games they’re attending.

That arrangement makes the Jets and their housemates, the Giants, prime candidates for casino sponsorship. The impending launch of legal sports betting in Pennsylvania puts the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles in that category, too. And the Oakland Raiders are about to relocate to the casino capital of the world, Las Vegas, Nevada.

While relatively commonplace abroad, this marketing category is brand new for domestic sports franchises. The source of the NY Post report indicated that an NFL team sponsorship would likely run in the neighborhood of $1 million.

Jerry Jones has that kind of loose change rattling around in his cupholders. Last week, his Dallas Cowboys partnered with WinStar World, a tribal casino just across the border in Oklahoma. It is the first such partnership in the NFL but not the first of its kind in the US.

The NBA blazed the trail last month, signing MGM Resorts International as its official gaming partner. MGM happens to be the proud new owner of a casino in the Empire State as it works to finalize its purchase of Empire City.

NY casinos still in a holding pattern

Checking the calendar, it’s been almost four months since the US Supreme Court paved the way for state-regulated sports betting. New York was actually out in front of that decision, authorizing the activity for four NY casinos back in 2013.

The SCOTUS ruling activated that clause in May, but NY sports betting has so far remained in limbo. Regulators have yet to implement the rules required to get the industry up and running.

While they wait, commercial casino owners are taking the opportunity to prepare. Two of the four have announced major sports betting deals so far:

Rivers Casino seems to have a clear path into NY sports betting, too. The Schenectady property is owned by Rush Street Gaming, which is partnered with Kambi in nearby markets. Resorts World hasn’t yet announced a partner, but it was “prepared to implement sports betting” at last update.

Regulators, however, are not.

A spokesman for the NYS Gaming Commission declined to provide a progress update, and any rules are subject to a 60-day waiting period. The group is scheduled to meet later this month.

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A partner right next door at The Meadowlands?

If the Jets are looking for a casino partner, they need look no further than their own parking lot. MetLife essentially shares a footprint with The Meadowlands, and it’s hard to envision a more natural fit between a team and a gaming company.

Since revealing its FanDuel-branded sportsbook, The Meadowlands has become the clear sports betting leader in NJ. It generated more July revenue than any of its competitors — and nearly a third of the total — despite opening in the middle of the month. Its spot just across the river from New York City provides prime access to the largest market in the country.

It also provides the best access to football fans in the vicinity. The Meadowlands runs free shuttles to and from the stadium on game days, working to include itself in the tailgating routine. Social media accounts from kickoff weekend seem to show that it’s working, although the revenue reports will tell the full story.

While NFL teams aren’t allowed to earn direct revenue shares from their casino partnerships, the opportunities to capitalize remain. Tens of thousands of Jets and Giants fans will become acquainted with the FanDuel Sportsbook brand as they attend games this season, and it’s hardly a stretch to imagine the neighbors formalizing their relationship with mutual branding and cross-promotion.

Maybe it’s relevant and maybe it’s not, but it’s also worth pointing out that The Meadowlands’ owner, Jeff Gural, owns Tioga Downs, too. Could another “giant” partnership be in the works?

Eric Ramsey

About

Eric is a reporter and writer covering the NY gambling industry, online poker, sports betting regulation, and DFS. He comes from a poker background, formerly on staff at PokerNews and the World Poker Tour.