The sportsbook, which is a joint venture between GVC and MGM Resorts International, already operates inside Michigan’s busiest casino at MGM Grand Detroit, which is just a short walk from Ford Field.
The deal includes in-stadium and broadcast ads, along with other digital promotions. The Lions deal is similar to others around the NFL, including a BetMGM pact with the Denver Broncos, which includes an in-stadium betting lounge. There are no such plans for Ford Field.
Sports betting opened at MGM Grand Detroit in March, and online operators like BetMGM are kicking marketing campaigns into high gear leading up to the launch of Michigan mobile sports betting later this year.
Sportsbook deal an extension of Lions, MGM partnership
The Lions partnership with BetMGM is an extension of an existing relationship with MGM.
It will include broadcast promotions, digital marketing, and in-stadium signage. BetMGM will be the presenting sponsor of Lions Bingo and Lions Perks.
Introduced on the team app last season, plays run or statistics achieved fill a Lions Bingo card for prizes. This year, the accurate prediction of the sequence of game scenarios can net cash prizes in the free game.
Lions Perks will offer exclusive rewards through the BetMGM app and BetMGM Sports Lounge at the downtown casino.
MGM and the Lions already have a relationship, including the MGM Grand Tunnel Club at Ford Field.
“The Detroit Lions historic relationship with BetMGM has been years in the making and we’re proud to announce details of our official partnership,” Lions President Rod Wood said, in a release. “We’re continuously seeking new ways to entertain and involve our fans which is especially important during such unusual times; this partnership with BetMGM will provide additional and exciting opportunities to engage our fans.”
BetMGM already recognized name in Michigan
The deal is the first for the Lions in what will be a competitive online gambling market.
When PointsBet partnered with the Tigers in July, it was more of an unknown entity trying to get its name out in a new market. It also was the first sportsbook deal with any Major League Baseball team.
For BetMGM, it’s more about solidifying name recognition where there already is a strong foundation.
“When we first opened the BetMGM Sports Lounge at MGM Grand Detroit in March, we hoped to develop deep relationships with the state’s top teams,” said BetMGM Chief Marketing Officer Matt Prevost, a University of Michigan graduate. “We are honored to be the first sports betting partner of the Lions and to offer their fans access to a variety of best-in-class promotions and perks only available on BetMGM.”
Deal represents changing times for NFL, Lions
The move is a continuation of a seismic NFL shift in embracing gambling as it launches legally in several states.
Automotive executive William Clay Ford bought the Lions in 1963. Though Ford died in 2014, the team has stayed with the Ford family.
This offseason, Ford’s widow, Martha Firestone Ford, handed over team control to their daughter, Sheila Ford Hamp.
The conservative family was one of the last teams to add team cheerleaders in 2016.
But now the Lions are joining other teams at the forefront of sports betting. Other teams with deals include the Broncos and Indianapolis Colts, who have a daily fantasy sports promotional deal with FanDuel. The New York Jets are aligned with MGM and 888 Casino. Even the Dallas Cowboys are joined with WinStar Casino in Oklahoma, and the Baltimore Ravens and Las Vegas Raiders have agreements with Caesars.
More deals are sure to follow throughout the NFL.