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Party Poker Inks Marketing Deal With Devils and 76ers

Published by on January 19, 2014

Boomberg News Wire – The Josh Harris-controlled Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils signed a multiyear marketing agreement with partypoker, becoming the first major U.S.-based professional sports teams to align themselves with online gambling.

The agreement with the unit of Gibraltar-based Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Plc (BPTY), the teams and Prudential Center, home to the Devils, comes about a year after New Jersey legalized online gambling, which is expected to be a $7.4 billion business in the U.S. by 2017, according to the research firm H2 Gambling Capital. Nevada and Delaware are the only other states to allow online gambling.

“This is our flag in the ground that we do things differently,” Scott O’Neil, chief executive officer of the National Basketball Association’s 76ers, the National Hockey League’s Devils and the Prudential Center, said in a telephone interview. “We’re looking for groundbreaking opportunities with companies willing to take chances.”

The agreement is worth at least $10 million, according to a person with direct knowledge of the deal.

Former U.S. Olympic Committee Chief Marketing Officer Rick Burton — a former commissioner of the Australian Basketball League, which allows gambling-related sponsorships — called the agreement “logical.”

“You’ve got all these teams and leagues where everybody is being told you better be able to sell, but every possible category has been explored,” Burton, a professor of sports management at Syracuse University, said in a telephone interview. “Here, there’s a salesman who says, ‘I can get you big money, but you have to let me in the gambling space.’”

Richard Peddie, the former chief executive officer of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which operates the Maple Leafs and basketball’s Raptors, said he isn’t surprised these teams — in the lower half of franchise valuations in their respective leagues — are the first to align themselves with a gambling site.

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