New MLB/FanDuel Deal Means League-Sanctioned Betting At The Ballpark

Written By Kevin Shelly on August 15, 2019 - Last Updated on February 18, 2020

Major League Baseball (MLB) has struck a multi-year deal with FanDuel, making the sports betting company an authorized gaming operator with the league.

Last month, the MLB signed a similar deal with DraftKings, another pre-eminent sportsbook operator. MGM Resorts International also has a deal with the MLB.

FanDuel gains access to MLB’s official data feed, along with use of league and team marks and logos for its online sports betting products and retail sportsbook locations. That includes FanDuel’s retail sportsbook location at Valley Forge Casino in Pennsylvania. It also includes FanDuel’s PA online betting app.

What’s the value of official data?

Put simply, saying you use official data helps with marketing and promotion.

Kenny Gersh, MLB executive vice president of gaming and new business ventures explained the deal:

“FanDuel has proven itself to be a leader in the sports betting space and has shifted a step ahead again through its commitment to, and recognition of, the value in being an authorized gaming operator.”

Financial terms were not disclosed.

FanDuel will promote in-play wagering with the data

FanDuel it plans to boost in-play wagering around baseball via the deal.

In-play betting across all sports accounts for more than half of FanDuel’s total sportsbook business.

Kip Levin, president and chief operating officer of the FanDuel Group, explained:

“Baseball is one of the most popular sports to bet on and partnering with MLB allows us to make the betting experience even better for our customers.”

That should appeal to PA MLB fans. Pennsylvania is currently the only state that can offer luxury of betting on your phone in the stands at MLB games. Both Phillies and Pirates fans can take advantage of the in-game betting while being at the game.

This time last year, MLB’s Gersh insisted a cut of betting action was integral to maintaining the integrity of baseball. Now they are partners with a company providing live betting on the sidelines of the action.

A sign of changing times

There was a time when major league sports adamantly opposed gambling, but with the 2018 Supreme Court ruling striking down prohibitions on gambling, the big leagues are now rushing to grab a share of the profits.

Initially, major spots groups tried to impose so-called integrity fees, but sportsbooks and state regulators would have none of it. Once tohe integrity ploy failed, leagues pivoted to state-mandated official data.

Two states, Tennessee and Illinois have gone so far as to mandate the use of official data in wagering, even though neither state has live sports betting yet. However, most US sportsbooks are under no legal obligation to use any particular source of data. In fact, Nevada has operated its regulated sports betting market without official league data for decades.

Instead, deals like the latest between MLB and FanDuel are occurring on their own and out of the purview of regulators. It is a win-win for both the leagues and the sportsbooks. Touting a reliance on “official data” provides both a stamp of approval and a marketing tool.

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Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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