NBA Announces Multiyear Partnership With The Stars Group

NBA Announces Multiyear Partnership With The Stars Group

On Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, The Stars Group announced in a press release that it has entered into a multi-year arrangement with The National Basketball Association (NBA). Under The terms of this partnership, The Stars Group will become an “authorized gaming operator” of the professional sports league in The United States.

About The Deal

The Stars Group will gain the right to use NBA-branded intellectual property, like team logos, and official game data. Additionally, the NBA will promote The Stars Group across its online and mobile channels, including NBA TV,, social media and the NBA app. In exchange, The Stars Group will showcase the NBA in its online gaming products. The two organizations will work together on responsible gaming and game integrity efforts.

Company Reactions

The NBA’s Head of Fantasy & Gaming Scott Kaufman-Ross had the following to say about the partnership: “The Stars Group is an accomplished global online gaming leader and we are excited to work with them on their first U.S. sports league partnership. This dynamic partnership will be another way to create authentic fan engagement with league logos and official NBA betting data, while leveraging Stars’ global expertise to further optimize the fan experience.”

Commenting on behalf of PokerStars, SVP Strategy & Operations USA Matt Primeaux explained: “We are excited to partner with the NBA as we continue to execute on our U.S. strategy. This agreement enables us to use official NBA data and league marks, providing a better experience to our customers, while working with the NBA to protect the integrity of games.”

The Stars Group’s U.S. Footprint

The Stars Group runs a licensed New Jersey sports betting platform called BetStars. The Stars Group also previously announced a partnership with Mount Airy Casino Resort in Pennsylvania to offer regulated sports betting in that state. It’s highly likely that this will be provided through the BetStars brand too. As additional states legalize sportsbooks following the landmark Murphy v. NCAA Supreme Court decision, BetStars will attempt to become licensed in other American jurisdictions.

The Stars Group also runs the most popular online poker room in the world, PokerStars. It’s available to New Jersey customers although they are ring-fenced and are restricted to only playing against others within the Garden State. There’s also a PokerStars Casino that’s active in New Jersey. These properties present lucrative cross-channel possibilities for the NBA to acquire fans among gambling participants other than sports bettors who presumably are already acquainted with the league and its products.

Not a Bad Boy Anymore?

Beyond the benefits expressly enumerated in its deal with the NBA, The Stars Group will also gain intangibly from its relationship with one of the most established athletic leagues in the country. In fact, this partnership may make the process of obtaining U.S. gambling licenses easier for the Isle of Man-based gaming firm.

Nevada inserted a “bad actor” clause in its law authorizing internet gambling, which is the main reason why PokerStars has been excluded from the state. PokerStars was considered a bad actor because it had accepted U.S. customers after the passage of The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, which supposedly made online poker illegal across the country (although a later Department of Justice opinion regarding lotteries made it clear that this legislation didn’t criminalize online poker).

As more and more states craft legislation to make real money internet gambling a reality within their borders, it’s probable that some of them will enact provisions against bad actors. However, it will be tough for opponents of the Stars Group to argue that it’s a bad actor when it has the full backing and support of the beloved and reputable NBA. Thus, it’s clear that The Stars Group isn’t just playing business but also politics with this partnership.

NBA Keen on Many Partnerships

The NBA has been active in pursuing deals with gambling enterprises, having signed a similar agreement with MGM Resorts International in July, which designated it as the Association’s “official gaming partner.” Like The Stars collaboration, the alliance with MGM seems centered around sports betting although with the possibility of marketing to other gambling customers as well. Indeed, it was just a few days after MGM and the NBA revealed their intentions that two of MGM’s Mississippi properties, The Beau Rivage in Biloxi and The Gold Strike in Tunica, launched legal sportsbooks of their own.

By adding The Stars Group as a gaming associate, the NBA is broadening its reach. The MGM affiliation opened up many brick-and-mortar establishments to NBA marketing possibilities, and now the deal with The Stars Group expands the NBA’s presence in the online sphere as well.

In the international arena, the NBA hasn’t been sitting on the sidelines either. It reached an understanding with French lottery operator Francaise des Jeux in November, and it recently teamed up with Uruguayan state-run sports betting concern Supermatch.

PokerStars’ Long-Term Vision

The partnership with the NBA is The Stars Group’s first with a pro sports governing body. Assuming all goes well, we could see the development of relationships with other leagues. Even if revenues don’t immediately materialize, The Stars Group has amply demonstrated in the past that it’s in it for the long haul and ready to invest heavily in endeavors that have the prospect of delivering rewards later on down the line.