PointsBet’s XFL Partnership Could Foreshadow More To Come In Michigan

Posted on March 3, 2020

What could a partnership between a future legal sportsbook operator in Michigan and a professional football league that has no teams in the state tell residents about the future of legal sports betting in their state? Plenty, if the conversation is about a new PointsBet-XFL partnership.

The sportsbook and the league recently made a pact for cross-promotional purposes. Because of the sportsbook’s presence in the state and the legal framework, there could be more such news.

What the PointsBet-XFL deal could point to

Currently, PointsBet is one of a few early entrants into Michigan. Its investment in the market may expand past its market access deal with the Northern Waters Casino in Watersmeet.

Right now, none of the professional sports teams in Michigan have official sports betting partners. In the past, the Detroit Pistons and Red Wings have made deals for daily fantasy games with FanDuel and DraftKings.

It’s uncertain whether that would give either of those brands an inside track to official sports betting partner deals with either franchise. Additionally, even if that were the case, the Detroit Lions and Tigers would still be on the market for PointsBet.

If PointsBet were to land a partnership with the Lions, that could represent a great opportunity for the brand. The NFL has recently opened the door for its franchises to profit off legal sportsbooks.

PointsBet’s brand might come to Ford Field

The NFL recently allowed its franchisees to partner with sportsbook brands. Although the league still bars traditional retail sportsbooks at NFL teams’ stadiums, there is some wiggle room.

The teams are free to contract with sportsbooks for lounge areas at the stadiums. These areas won’t feature betting kiosks or windows but will have a sportsbook aesthetic otherwise.

The lounge at Ford Field will likely bear the name of the brand of which it chooses to partner. In addition to sponsoring the physical space, that sportsbook will likely offer special promotions for Ford Field patrons on its app on game days.

That likely wouldn’t be available for fans until the 2021 NFL season, however. Michigan isn’t expected to authorize online sportsbooks until next year.

It’s unclear right now whether the same thing could be in the future for Comerica Park or Little Caesars Arena. That may be inevitable, however.

The future of legal sports betting in Michigan

Although it may be a crawl, there might eventually be full-fledged retail sportsbooks at all three Detroit sports venues. While that would require the stadium operators to acquire sportsbook licenses, it might be a worthwhile investment.

The cost of that investment could go down extraordinarily if a sportsbook operator foots part of the bill. That’s where brands like PointsBet will offer its best value for stadiums.

Until such a time, however, Michigan’s professional sports teams present opportunities for sportsbook brands through other forms of cross-promotion. That includes in-game activations and signage at stadiums.

Sponsorship of content and mentions on teams’ social media posts are valuable “real estate” for brands, as well. It’s safe to say that if PointsBet thinks the XFL is an attractive brand, Michigan’s professional sports teams should be even more attractive partners.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago, IL. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law. Recently, he has written about the expanded gambling industry in Michigan, including online sports betting, online casinos, and the cornerstone land-based casino market.

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