The Philadelphia Eagles‘ front office moves might be questionable but their partnership strategy with online sportsbooks and casinos is anything but conservative. It possesses “You-want Philly Philly?” gumption and is able to read trends and adapt better than certain quarterbacks call audibles at the line-of-scrimmage.
Since the NFL has allowed teams to partner with online casinos, DFS and sports betting operators, the Eagles have added Unibet, DraftKings and Fox Bet to their roster.
The Eagles announced a partnership with Esports Entertainment Group to serve as the first esports tournament provider in Dec. 2020.
Eagles, esports and memestocks
February was filled with the rise of GameStop and other memestocks. What you might have missed in the dizzying frenzy is the Eagles connection.
In Feb. 2021, former shortseller Andrew Left‘s Cintron Research suggested GameStop acquire Esports Entertainment Group.
Esports Entertaiment’s shares jumped up 39% on the news. According to the New York Post, Left said:
“Instead of selling these people low margin hardware and video games, GME should become the software and more important, the BETTING platform for their gamers to compete in and bet on E Sports.”
Philadelphia Eagles and esports
The Philadelphia Eagles partnered with Esports Entertainment Group (EEG) in December 2020 for a multiyear deal with the Eagles serving as an esports tournament provider. It’s a first-of-its-kind, landmark pairing.
The Eagles were the first NFL team to partner with an esports tournament provider. Losing to the Eagles yet again were the New England Patriots. In March 2021, EEG signed a multi-year sponsorship deal with Kraft Sports and Entertainment which makes them the official partner of the Patriots and Major League Soccer team New England Revolution. The Denver Broncos signed a similar deal with EEG on March 25.
Key points of the Philadelphia Eagles partnership with Esports Entertainment Group:
- EEG will operate biannual Madden NFL esports tournaments for the Eagles utilizing the Esports Gaming League platform.
- The Eagles will become an EEG shareholder.
- EEG will leverage player imagery within the Eagles’ local market.
- EEG will work with Eagles players to create custom videos to promote the tournaments and be featured in the Eagles extensive ongoing digital marketing efforts spanning social, email, mobile, and online channels.
Catherine Carlson, senior vice president of revenue and strategy for the Eagles commented in a press release:
“This innovative partnership with Esports Entertainment Group presents a wonderful opportunity for us to expand our reach in a growing market and create new experiences for Eagles fans. Esports Entertainment Group has always been a progressive leader in the esports space and has been ahead of the curve in terms of how its interactive platform brings together gaming enthusiasts from all around the world. We look forward to debuting a number of exciting projects through this partnership, including the launch of the highly anticipated Madden tournament series on the Esports Gaming League platform.”
Who is Esports Entertainment?
EEG is an esports entertainment and online gambling operator. They have offices in New Jersey as well as overseas in the United Kingdom and Malta.
Through their wagering system, they offer the opportunity for people to bet on all professional esports events for real money in a licensed and secure environment. However, the ability to do so is not available in the United States…yet.
EEG submitted its first gaming license application in the United States on Feb. 9 to New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement.
EEG and Bally’s Corp., the parent company of Bally’s Atlantic City, entered into a multi-year agreement in 2020. EEG operates several entities across three key pillars which they lay out in a press release:
- esports entertainment and infrastructure
- esports wagering
Grant Johnson, CEO of Esports Entertainment Group expects demand for esports betting will be strong. According to their data, over 50% of US esports fans are likely to bet on esports.
“We believe we will be the first esports-vertical focused sports book with a state license in the US. We are ready to move quickly with our esports-focused wagering platform rollout once the DGE permits us to do so, which we expect in the second quarter this year. Securing access to what is currently the largest market for sports betting in the US will provide a strong advantage as we look to expand into additional markets in the US moving forward.”
Esports in Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Eagles are not only stakeholders in esports, they are soon-to-be neighbors.
The Fusion Arena, an esports and entertainment venue, is being built at the Sports Complex in South Philadelphia and projected to open in 2021. The Fusion Arena will be home to the Philadelphia Fusion esports franchise, one of 20 international teams competing in the Overwatch League.
Facts about the Fusion Arena:
- 60,000-square-foot, 3,500-seat arena
- $50 million price tag
- What’s inside? Live event space, luxury boxes, team offices, a broadcast facility and a player practice area
- Who owns it? Comcast Spectacor and The Cordish Companies
Esports’ appeal goes beyond Broad and Pattison. Philadelphia-based Nerd Street Gamers is a national network of esports facilities and events. In Oct. 2020, Nerd Street Gamers revealed plans to open esports facilities connected to two Five Below stores in Philadelphia, Georgetown, TX , and St. Louis, MO.
NerdStreet Gamers owns and operates Localhost locations in Philadelphia. Localhost is an esports training center with professional-grade equipment that hosts community events, bootcamps, and tournaments for gamers of all skill levels.
Localhost in East Falls is next to the Five Below. Also, the Localhost in Northern Liberties is still out of operation due to COVID restrictions.
Wayne Kimmel, managing partner at SeventySix Capital, which is an investor in NerdStreet Gamers commented to PlayPennsylvania:
“The growth of esports, like sports betting, has been accelerated due to COVID. The industry is still in its infancy. The fact that there was so much time for people to be able to learn and play more during the pandemic, it’s one of the next ‘next’ things.”
Kimmel also pointed out that over 200 colleges and universities offer scholarships for esports.
Is betting on esports legal in Pennsylvania or New Jersey?
Betting on esports is currently not permitted in Pennsylvania.
In New Jersey, the DGE can and has issued temporary approvals for specific esports events.
Lead image credit: AP Photo/Terrin Waack