The New York Jets have wasted little time in securing gambling partnerships since the NFL relaxed its rules regarding such agreements. Over the last week, the Jets have signed deals with not just one, but two online gaming companies.
The New York Jets are now officially in business with 888.com and MGM Resorts International. Both companies are involved in the New Jersey sports betting and online gambling markets. At least one of these partnerships have raised eyebrows among NFL brass, but the Jets have pushed on nonetheless.
888 and NY Jets Partnership
The New York Post reported on Monday that 888.com has signed a sponsorship agreement with the New York Jets. Almost zero details regarding the deal are available now aside from reports that MetLife Stadium was adorned with several three-story high orange banners on Sunday displaying a simple message: 888.com.
It is a simple ad, but it has already resulted in more than a few raised eyebrows. National Council on Problem Gambling executive director Keith Whyte told the New York post he’s concerned this ad could entice children to gamble online.
“There are a lot of kids who go to games, and this kind of marketing may have a big impact on them,” he told The Post. “They will become much more inclined to see gambling as being part of the game.”
Although reasonable, Whyte’s position is neither surprising nor applicable specifically to 888 and the New York Jets. Gambling companies of all types buy ad spots on billboards, television, radio and elsewhere. Anywhere gambling is legal, children are bound to be exposed to the fact that it exists.
Concerns expressed by others is more specific as it regards to NFL rules which specify how casinos and NFL teams are allowed to cooperate. The NFL recently relaxed its stance on gambling advertisements to allow teams to sign partnerships with casinos that offer sports betting.
However, NFL teams are not allowed to sponsor sports betting directly or to participate in revenue sharing agreements with sportsbooks. The 888.com banner hung on the side of MetLife Stadium dances right on the line.
888, which operates 888 NJ, offers online gambling and poker, but is primarily known for its sports betting operations in NJ and abroad. The NY Post noted that the 888.com URL advertised on the MetLife banner takes visitors straight to a landing page that prominently displays a picture of a football game in progress and a link to bet on sports.
One source close to the Jets told the NY Post they don’t believe the banner violates NFL rules because it does not specifically advertise 888sport. 888.com simply acts as a landing page that allows visitors to visit the online casino, poker room or sportsbook. The argument could be made that this ad technically does not directly advertise sports betting as per NFL rules.
No one with the Jets, the NFL or 888.com has issued an official statement and little information is known about the deal. All we do know is the New York Jets and 888 have something in the works.
Looking at the MGM and Jets Deal
MGM issued a press release this morning announcing its own deal sponsorship deal with the NY Jets. According to the press release, this deal looks like others we’ve seen signed between pro sports teams and casino brands.
That means the deal includes cross-promotional advertising that will allow MGM to display in-stadium advertising, to host special promotions for Jets fans, allow MGM to put the Jets logo at the Borgata and to sponsor the Jets 360 Production Studio that will display MGM advertising on Jets television, digital and social platforms.
MGM Resorts Chairman & CEO Jim Murren issued the following statement on the deal:
“We could not be more excited to join with the New York Jets for a first-of-its-kind partnership in the NFL. We look forward to working with the Jets to innovate gaming, increase our customer base through cross marketing opportunities and provide NFL fans with a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience.”
This deal will also be subject to NFL rules prohibiting teams from directly advertising sports betting, but MGM and the Jets have already come up with some interesting ways to maximize the relationship while staying within the rules.
For example, the NY Jets mobile app will launch a game called “I Called It” that will allow fans to predict certain in-game events during Jets games. It sounds quite similar to in-game betting, except it will not be branded as such and will only exist within the Jets app (not the PlayMGM app). Fans will be able to win real prizes, but they will not be allowed to wager any money through I Called It.
MGM President of Interactive Gaming Scott Butera explained to ESPN today that the app will still be useful in cross-promoting sports betting to Jets fans.
“We can promote our app and our casino, which is valuable to us because it could lead to a sports betting customer, even though the NFL won’t allow us to have a specific call to action,” he said. “We love the demographic that Jets fans provide. They have high household incomes in an area where sports betting is now legal.”
These deals make the NY Jets the third NFL team since the NFL changed its rules in August to allow such agreements. The Cowboys signed a similar marketing agreement with the WinStar World Casino in September and the Ravens signed one with the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore earlier this month.