Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR) grabbed the last of the sports-betting crown jewels when it signed on as the official casino for the National Football League (NFL). But the deal has some significant shortcomings, so its value is much less than the rest of the jewels snagged by MGM Resorts (NYSE:MGM), which has partnered with professional baseball, basketball, and hockey.
The deal between Caesars and the NFL gives it some opportunities, but because the football league can't get past its opposition to sports gambling generally, it diminishes the potential.
A goal-line stand
Starting with the 2019 NFL playoffs (which began earlier this month) and going for several years thereafter, Caesars will have the right to use NFL trademarks, like the logo and the words "Super Bowl," to promote its casinos and properties here and abroad to create "unique experiences" for fans. It also includes events like the NFL Draft. The Associated Press said the deal was worth $30 million a year for three years, though no official value was placed on it by the league.
Unfortunately, the agreement only names Caesar's the league's official casino and specifically excludes sports betting, daily fantasy football leagues, and non-casino hotels and resorts. As a result, Caesar's cannot use NFL trademarks to promote its sports books. Since sports betting -- and arguably fantasy football, too -- are where the real potential is, Caesars is basically just getting the chance to advertise its casinos at games and related events.
Not that this opportunity isn't worth something. The American Gaming Association estimates the league alone could eventually reap $2.3 billion in annual revenue from the casino industry (assuming it eventually embraces sports betting), and you can expect Caesars to be especially prominent during the 2020 player draft that will be held in Las Vegas, which also happens to be the year that the Oakland Raiders are scheduled to move to a new stadium in Vegas.
Individual teams are able to accept advertising from casinos and fantasy sports operators that also offer sports betting. Caesars has relationships with seven clubs -- the Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, the Raiders, and Philadelphia Eagles -- but only as long as they don't promote Caesars' sportsbook.
Teams are also now able to name stadiums after casino operators, an outcome that was probably a foregone conclusion after the Raiders chose to move to Las Vegas.
MGM's deals are nothing but net
Still, Caesars' deal is much less than what MGM Resorts has secured through its agreements with the other sports leagues. They allow MGM to use official league branding with both its casinos and its digital sports-betting operations. Perhaps equally important -- if not more so -- MGM can use official league data and enhanced statistics in its sports wagering products, such as the casino's playMGM app.
That's a far more lucrative arrangement than what Caesars got from the NFL, yet MGM was reported to have paid only $25 million for the National Basketball Association deal. If the other leagues' deals were of similar value, then Caesars overpaid while getting much less in return.
MGM also agreed to a joint venture with GVC Holdings (NASDAQOTH:GMVHF) to develop a digital sports betting platform in the U.S. Nine states have legalized sports betting so far, following the ruling by the Supreme Court that struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act as unconstitutional. And more than a dozen other states have introduced legislation to authorize it.
Football may have been the biggest play remaining in the sports betting arena, and there's always the possibility that Caesars and the NFL could expand their relationship as the league grows more comfortable with sports betting. But as the deal currently stands, it looks like Caesars fumbled the ball.