Before the Philadelphia Sixers soared to the top spot in the Eastern Conference, they were leaders in making DFS and sports betting partnerships.
The Sixers became DraftKings’ first NBA partner when the team named them their “official daily fantasy game partner” in December 2014.
Post-PAPSA, the Sixers continued to be trailblazers. The Sixers teamed with Fox Bet in Nov. 2019 making it the first ever pairing between an NBA team and an online sportsbook.
Adam Davis, Chief Commercial Officer for Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Sixers and the New Jersey Devils, spoke during SporticoLive’s “Betting on the Rise” event on April 21. Consider Davis the point guard at HBSE for sports betting partnerships. Following are some highlights from Harris.
How sportsbook operators and teams form partnerships
On delivering value to multiple Sixers sports betting partnerships
“It’s a 5% margin business so these operators don’t have seven-figures to throw at you,” said Davis. “For us, it was how do we introduce some of these brands to our fan base, help build trust, and deliver clear lanes for each partner to make sure the fans are ultimately playing on their platforms.”
Key points in conversations between teams and operations
“The conversations are around differentiation,” explained Davis. “With the Devils at the Prudential Center and Sixers, the question is how are we going to differentiate and get your fans to play on my platform.
“When PAPSA was getting repealed and we were doing research overseas at mature markets, there are people playing on three different accounts and looking for the best odds at different platforms. The US is still learning. For us, we are trying to introduce new brands. BetMGM is a great example of a Sixers’ partner. We are trying to introduce brands to our brands and shape differentiation.”
On building brand recognition ahead of launch
PlayUp received its sports betting license in New Jersey and teamed with the New Jersey Devils. However, the sports betting app is not yet live.
“We are trying to build and introduce PlayUp to Devils fans. They are really interesting to us because they are the No. 1 fantasy operator in Australia. Think about who has come out of the gate and won in the U.S., DraftKings and FanDuel. It’s because they were able to build an audience before sports betting went live in those states.”
Sportsbooks inside arenas
On April 15, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill to legalize sports betting in the state. Shortly after, FanDuel and the Phoenix Suns announced a multi-year partnership that includes a FanDuel retail sportsbook inside the Phoenix Suns Arena.
HBSE owns the Prudential Center in Newark, the home of Devils. In 2018, William Hill partnered with the Devils and Prudential Center. A William Hill Sports Lounge is inside the Prudential Center outside Section 18 on the Main Concourse and has over 20 digital screens showing sporting events and odds. However, there are no betting kiosks or teller windows.
Davis was asked about the sportsbooks (with tellers and kiosks) in arenas and whether it creates an unfair advantage.
“I love it. Candidly, I’m jealous. For any legislature that is listening, on behalf of the teams, keep doing it. It’s good stuff.
“Unfair advantage, not at all. New Jersey and Pennsylvania were out first (with sports betting). If I could dream it up all over again maybe we would go backwards. I think having the books is an amazing opportunity. In my business, it’s about putting thousands of people in a venue where everyone is cheering for an outcome. Arenas have 100-150 ‘dark’ days a year. People don’t come to our venues unless there is a reason to come. Having the sportsbooks, which is not only a great revenue opportunity for the teams, it brings people to your venue.”
Filling arenas on non-game days
Of course, mobile betting is available in New Jersey so fans can simply bet on their phones while they are at the Prudential Center. Davis says there are ways that areas can still fill “dark” days despite not having a sportsbook with kiosks and tellers. He could envision arenas hosting watch parties for the NCAA tournament and big UFC events.
“Look at the success of the Meadowlands (FanDuel Sportsbook). People want to congregate together and have a vested interest in the entertainment,” said Davis. “Now, you have an opportunity with 10k-15k people at an arena, it’s amazing. That’s the next wave for us. That’s what we are looking at doing, bringing people in for non-Devils events to watch games.”
Sixers looking for a new home?
HBSE does not own the Wells Fargo Center, which is home to the Sixers and Philadelphia Flyers. Comcast Spectacor owns Wells Fargo Center and the Flyers.
Two branded, hi-tech sports lounges, the Rivers Casino Philadelphia Sports Lounge and the BetRivers.com Sports Lounge, opened at the Wells Fargo Center in Oct. 2019. Like the William Hill Lounge at the Prudential Center, there are no betting kiosks or tellers.
The Sixers’ lease at the Wells Fargo Center expires in 2031. The team did confirm rumors in August 2020 that they were “exploring the possibility of building a new arena.”
PlayPennsylvania explored some other options for a future home of the Sixers including the Camden waterfront, Schuylkill Yards, and King of Prussia.
Sixers betting partnerships
Since online sportsbooks started arriving in Pennsylvania in the summer of 2019, the Sixers, Flyers and Philadelphia Eagles have all created partnerships with various operators.
Here is a look at the Sixers partnerships:
|What's it for?
|Official sports betting partner
|Exclusive daily fantasy, sportsbook and online casino partner
|Official winning partner
|Wells Fargo Center (home of the Flyers and 76ers)
|Two sportsbook lounges (no betting kiosks or tellers)
|Advertising placements; Caesars will promote Harrah's Philadelphia through "playful online and in-game contests."
Lead image c/o Fox Bet.