The idea of gambling sponsorship in the NBA isn’t something that’s recently emerged, there have been solid ties created over the last decade, and there are now several prominent gambling names with lucrative, active sponsorship deals with the world’s biggest basketball league. Although different players will have several sponsors, some of which they may have worked alongside for several years, given that sports gambling is becoming more and more accessible for millions of more Americans, which is the NBA’s biggest market.
Historically, gambling within the United States has been specific to Las Vegas. Although other areas of America allowed gambling, such as Atlantic City in New Jersey, gambling in the US overwhelming filtered through the famous strip out in the Nevada desert.
The success of Las Vegas and its ability to regulate and correctly manage the billion-dollar influx of cash that it handles monthly has laid a solid foundation for companies looking to take that blueprint and apply it to a digital casino platform. Online casino platforms have been able to replicate this model so successfully that many live casino games now only mimic their brand convincingly. They have added convenience and additional ways to gamble that you can’t find in a standard casino.
Following the resounding success and the unbelievable growth of the casino sector, more states in America began to legalize online gambling, and the sports gambling sector noticed the untapped potential and set its sights on attempting to expand into this highly lucrative platform. Given that the landscape of the United States is so colossal, each state has varying laws. The world of digital sports gambling was blown wide open back in 2018 when a Supreme Court ruling ruled that the current digital gambling landscape was not fit for purpose, and this acted as a catalyst for a wave of states to move toward legalizing and adequately regulating the market.
In June 2018, Delaware became the first state outside of Nevada to allow its citizens to place sports bets. Within six months, seven other states followed suit, aiming to get their hands on the lucrative tax base offered through legalized sports betting. As we move into the second half of 2023, nearly half of all US states have some sort of plan to legalize gambling, with others set to follow suit, the main driving force behind sports gambling gaining so much momentum is because of the tax base it provides legislators and the freedom it gives to people who wish to place a bet on their favorite team.
Due to this wave of fresher, and more lenient sports gambling laws, the impact has started to impact other sports, with the NBA taking advantage of the same new laws that Delaware did in 2018; the league announced its first significant gambling sponsor around the same time Delaware announced it became the second state to legalize sports gambling. In 2023, it was announced that NBA players could invest in sports gambling companies and sign endorsement deals with gambling companies, so the impact on the NBA is set to take off into the stratosphere.
Most recently, other big sports in America have witnessed star names endorsing gambling companies, with NHL legends Wayne Gretzky and current Hart Trophy winner Connor McDavid signing endorsements with gambling companies. However, given that there is still such an untapped market for NBA players to sign deals with gambling companies, it’ll be interesting to see how these markets take off over the next few years. Who knows whether the sponsorship might reach the same levels we have seen in English soccer, where dozens of teams and several leagues have all signed huge deals with betting and gambling sponsors.
Given that the NBA now has several big sponsorships to endorse the league, it’s anticipated that many players will soon get involved in lucrative sponsorship meals over the next couple of seasons. If some of the NBA’s top scorers were operating in today’s market, they would be a target for some gambling sponsors to springboard their brands to another level.
The transformation in the NBA will be profound, especially if some of the more prominent names and franchises embrace this new rule change and enter agreements with some of the biggest names in the industry. The deals will be relatively small compared to some of the colossal deals currently in the NBA. However, depending on the success of the original endorsements, the money involved could soon spiral out of control.
The transformation won’t just cause a seismic impact on players and teams; it will also bring several gambling companies into the public eye for millions of American sports fans who have grown up watching sports without any sort of serious exposure to the gambling sector, so it will transform the sport entirely.