MLS confirms wide-ranging deal with MGM Resorts

20 March 2019

North America’s Major League Soccer (MLS) has entered into a multi-year strategic partnership with MGM Resorts and the Roar Digital joint venture between MGM and GVC Holdings.

Under the deal, the length of which was not disclosed, MGM Resorts will serve as the first official gaming partner of MLS, while Roar becomes the exclusive official sports betting partner of the league.

Both MGM Resorts and Road will have access to enhanced MLS data for fans and sports betting customers, as well as game footage and photography, MLS-themed promotions and sweepstakes, television-visible signage for nationally broadcast games in the US, MLS talent and a range of hospitality and event opportunities.

The agreement also sets out plans for MLS to work with MGM Resorts and Roar to develop an exclusive free-to-play game for fans. This will focus on deepening engagement with supporters, driving the adoption of sports betting in regulated states and building a base of potential punters in states where regulation is yet to be adopted.

Other elements of the deal include MGM Resorts and Roar having access to a host of activation opportunities at major MLS events, such as the MLS Cup showpiece championship game.

MGM Resorts and Roar will seek to promote the new partnership by showcasing a selection of their services – including the playMGM mobile sports betting app from Roar – across the league’s various media platforms.

In addition, MGM Resorts will have an assortment of integrations across MLS social and digital channels, including an exclusive digital content series.

“MGM Resorts is a leader in sports betting, and they recognise the progress of our league and the growth of the sport in the United States and Canada,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said.

“Together, we will deliver cutting-edge data and analytics to MLS fans, and fan engagement will be the driving force behind every initiative in our partnership.”

MLS becomes the latest major US professional sports league to enter into this sort of partnership with MGM Resorts.

The NBA basketball league was the first competition to strike a deal with the operator, while Major League Baseball also has a deal in place with MGM. Last week, the Boston Red Sox also became the first MLB franchise to strike a deal with MGM.

Jim Murren, CEO and chairman of MGM Resorts, added: “Pairing MLS action and real-time data and analytics with MGM Resorts’ best-in-class sports betting operations and innovative technology and mobile offerings will truly wow soccer fans and showcase our shared commitment to providing a thrilling and immersive sports experience.”

Roar Digital CEO Adam Greenblatt also said: “MLS is one of the fastest growing professional leagues in the world and has rapidly established a passionate fan base throughout the United States.

“The partnership positions us to be able to offer our players a unique blend of best-in-class product and customer experience.”

MGM Resorts founded its new joint venture with GVC in July of last year, with the aim of “dominating” the US sports betting market. The venture, valued at $200m (£151m/€176m), took on its Roar Digital name in January

Image: Andy Witchger