The Detroit Tigers became the first Major League Baseball team to partner with a sportsbook, announcing a multi-year deal with PointsBet on Thursday.
The partnership includes signage at Comerica Park, mentions on radio spots and integration into the MLB and District Detroit apps.
Online gambling is projected to launch in Michigan later this year, perhaps in October.
“We are thrilled to welcome PointsBet as a gaming partner of the Detroit Tigers,” said Chris Granger, group president of sports and entertainment for Ilitch Holdings, Inc., the Tigers’ ownership group, in a release. “Our incredible fans will love the unique experiences and innovative offerings that PointsBet’s personalized platform provides. We look forward to the fan-friendly enhancements this will bring to the game-day experience in and around Comerica Park for years to come.”
The signage will be visible on television, including on the giant scoreboard in left field and on the right-field wall.
Who is PointsBet?
PointsBet is an Australian gambling company that is betting big on Michigan.
The Great Lakes State will represent a couple of firsts for PointsBet. Michigan has the company’s first Native American partnership and its first online casino offering.
PointsBet partnered with the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in the Upper Peninsula for online access.
The tribe operates Northern Waters Casino Resort in Watersmeet near the Wisconsin border.
The deal, announced on Jan. 6, was one of the first partnerships in the state. It also included exclusive negotiations for PointsBet to operate a retail sportsbook at the casino.
In addition to traditional markets, “PointsBetting” offers variable bets where outcome amounts are dictated by a bet’s margin.
The company also boasts more prop bets than competitors. That includes markets such as completion percentage bets in football and the time of an NBA player’s first basket.
“The PointsBet team is excited to announce our groundbreaking deal with the Detroit Tigers and Major League Baseball, becoming the first legal sports betting operator in US history to partner with an MLB franchise,” said Johnny Aitken, CEO of PointsBet USA, in a release.
“PointsBet operates in rare space within the industry by owning our technology environment from end to end, which allows us to be extremely nimble on product innovation and personalized offerings to complement our app’s market-leading speed. We offer the most betting options in the world on MLB games via our unique PointsBetting product, and we are excited to inject a unique and robust betting proposition into the great state of Michigan.”
Why is PointsBet partnering with the Tigers?
It’s a bold move but maybe a necessary one for PointsBet. The company doesn’t have brand loyalty like rivals FanDuel and DraftKings, nor a strong brick and mortar presence like MGM Resorts.
The Denver Broncos were the first American pro sports team to partner with a bookmaker with their FanDuel deal last month.
Online betting went live in Colorado on May 1 before the deal was announced. Meanwhile, PointsBet will get in front of Michigan sports bettors with months to spare before the app goes live.
The Broncos later announced a second deal with Betfred which includes plans for the NFL’s first onsite betting lounge.
The release about the PointsBet partnership from the Tigers called it an “exclusive” deal.
The announcement stems from a recent agreement between PointsBet and Major League Baseball, making PointsBet an authorized gaming operator for MLB. The agreement granted PointsBet rights to use official MLB data along with MLB logos within PointsBet products.
FanDuel seemed like a natural fit for Tigers
One of the curiosities about the deal is that FanDuel would’ve seemed like a natural fit.
The Ilitch family, magnates of Little Caesars Pizza, owns the Tigers.
MotorCity Casino is one of three commercial casinos in Detroit, all within walking distance of Comerica Park.
When sports betting went live in Michigan in March, MotorCity Casino launched its retail sportsbook, partnering with FanDuel for operations and online access.
Nevertheless, the Tigers went Down Under for their first sportsbook partnership.