PokerStars Signs New Partnership Deal With The UFC

PokerStars Logo

On Friday, Dec.21, PokerStars announced that they had become the first-ever “Official Poker Partner” of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The online gambling company’s familiar red spade will subsequently be on display at the upcoming pay-per-view Jon Jones versus Alexander Gustafsson UFC fight scheduled to take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Dec. 29.

Commenting upon the exciting development, Paul Asencio, UFC senior vice president, stated:

“We’re excited that PokerStars has joined our roster of global partners and has helped us create a new sponsorship category for our final event of 2018. This agreement lays the foundation to work together with PokerStars in the future to grow our respective customer bases in key markets.”

Details of Deal

Legal sports betting has continued to grow across the U.S. following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the federal sports betting ban this summer, thus paving the way for individual states to determine their own stance on the issue. The Stars Group, and its flagship poker site PokerStars, has been busy tying up partnership deals with casinos and major sports leagues ever since, including the National Basketball Association (NBA) this month.

Such deals naturally help PokerStars boost the site’s brand awareness. In addition, the latest UFC partnership also helps PokerStars capitalize on the country’s growing appetite for legal sports betting by capturing any overlap which exists between mixed martial arts (MMA) fans and sports betting, or gambling in general. This has the potential to provide significant rewards for PokerStars considering UFC, the biggest MMA promotion company, extends its programming to 160 different countries, and 1.1 billion households worldwide. Highlighting the point, Christopher Coyne, chief marketing officer of Stars Interactive, explains:

“UFC and PokerStars have a lot in common. We want to thrill and entertain, both in our products and customer experience. UFC is the world’s leading MMA promoter with millions of fans and followers around the globe, while PokerStars is the heavyweight of online poker. It’s a classic combination.”

Previous Poker/UFC Collaboration

This is not the first time the poker industry and UFC have collaborated, though. Ultimate Poker, for instance, the country’s first regulated online poker site, recruited poker pro Jason Somerville as a sponsored pro, and used the avid UFC fan to help carry out joint marketing activities on the site’s behalf. Somerville is now a sponsored PokerStars pro, as well as a Twitch sensation, providing more cross promotional possibilities for the latest collaboration.

“I’m very excited for the UFC-PS partnership,” said Somerville. “For now, we’re focused on kickstarting our relationship with UFC 232 next week; details beyond that coming soon. I see vast opportunity here in content, promotions, crossovers, etc. There’s a huge UFC fan base in poker and a lot of poker fans in the UFC audience.”

Capitalizing On Sports Betting Expansion

As mentioned, the UFC-PokerStars partnership announcement is just the latest example of the proliferating deals being struck between casino firms and major league sports across the nation.

A few months before PokerStars partnered with the National Basketball Association, for instance, MGM Resorts International agreed a similar deal with the basketball league. In October, the casino also tied up an agreement with the National Hockey League, before doing likewise with Major League Baseball in November.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma-based WinStar World Casino and Resort has partnered with the Dallas Cowboys; the Caesars operated Horseshoe Casino Baltimore has struck a deal with the Baltimore Ravens; MGM Resorts International and the New York Jets have partnered up; and most recently, Harrah’s New Orleans has formed a strategic relationship with both the New Orleans Saints and NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans.