The N.B.A. announced Tuesday that MGM Resorts International will be the league’s official gaming partner, the first partnership of its kind with a major sports league in the United States.
The partnership is the next step in the process of betting becoming an accepted part of the sports culture in the United States after decades during which the major sports leagues shunned any official association with gambling. Earlier this year, however, the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that effectively banned sports betting in most states, paving the way for major changes in the sports business in this country.
As part of the deal, MGM will use official N.B.A. data on its betting platform and work with the league to detect and prevent fraud and game-fixing. MGM also will have the right to use N.B.A. and W.N.B.A. marks and team logos, and it will work on a coordinated marketing plan with the league.
The N.B.A. commissioner, Adam Silver, has long said that sports gambling would eventually become legal and widespread in the United States. He called for its legalization and regulation back in 2014, and since the Supreme Court struck down the federal prohibition in May, the N.B.A. has signaled that it would be the first major sports league to begin profiting from it.
The value of the partnership with MGM was not disclosed.
While MGM will be the league’s exclusive gaming partner for marketing purposes, most of the rest of the agreement is not exclusive, and the N.B.A. most likely will look to sign similar agreements regarding its data with other sports betting operators. The N.B.A. is eager to have every company offering sports betting use official league data and work with league officials to prevent manipulation.
The league also is seeking a royalty from each bet placed on its games, as well as a say in limiting certain kinds of betting. Gaining these provisions may prove challenging, however.
Despite the Supreme Court ruling, a federal law regulating sports betting seems extremely unlikely to pass anytime soon. That has forced the N.B.A. and other sports leagues to lobby in state capitals to influence the patchwork of state laws being passed across the country.
So far three states — Delaware, New Jersey and Mississippi — have joined Nevada in legalizing sports betting. None of the laws passed has contained the provisions that the N.B.A. seeks.
New York’s proposed sports betting law contained most of the N.B.A.’s desired provisions and seemed poised to pass earlier this year, a moment that would have been a huge boon to sports leagues because of the state’s size and influence. But the state’s legislative session ended in June without the law coming to a vote.
The N.B.A., in partnership with Major League Baseball and the Professional Golfers Association, has paid lobbyists more than $500,000 to promote the group’s interests in Albany.
Though the deal between N.B.A. and MGM was officially announced Tuesday, the sides still need to iron out numerous details. It is not clear whether MGM will be able to offer betting on the N.B.A.’s developmental league or summer league, or if MGM will be allowed to use certain N.B.A. and W.N.B.A. highlights or game videos in its betting products.
The N.B.A. also has not determined how it will provide its real-time data to MGM, or any other sports betting operator with which it strikes an agreement. Sportradar distributes league data worldwide, but for betting purposes only outside of the United States, and the N.B.A. currently has no betting data partner inside the United States. The league could sign a domestic distribution deal with Sportradar or one of its competitors, such as Genius Sports, or opt to distribute the data itself.
Sports leagues argue that requiring sports betting operators to use official data is safer for consumers. While the final score of a game would not be in dispute, two different data providers could differ on things like who is credited with a rebound, which is crucial when consumers can place bets on specific player performances in a variety of statistical categories. Data provisions have seen some of the fiercest fighting as states write sports betting laws.
Even before this agreement, the N.B.A. and MGM, the world’s largest casino operator, had a close relationship. MGM has been the title sponsor of the past two N.B.A. Summer Leagues, and the company owns the W.N.B.A.’s Las Vegas Aces, who play their home games at MGM’s Mandalay Bay Events Center.
The deal is just the latest in a string of moves MGM has made in its attempt to conquer the blossoming legalized sports betting market in the United States. In recent days, MGM has confirmed a $200 million agreement with Ladbrokes to partner in the United States and announced agreements to operate in 15 states. Earlier, it purchased a racetrack and casino in Yonkers, N.Y., for $850 million.
MGM also plans to offer mobile and online products that include traditional and in-game sports betting, daily fantasy and casino gaming.