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Why Sports Bettors Should Care about the Stars Group-NBA Partnership


The biggest news from the world of sports and gambling this month came from The Stars Group Inc, better known as the parent company of PokerStars and BetStars. It revealed a multi-year partnership signed with the National Basketball Association (NBA).

As The Stars Group is only operating currently in New Jersey – though it recently obtained an internet gaming license in Pennsylvania to launch operations in 2019 – the company has long wanted to return to the United States gaming market since it departed amidst a legal kerfuffle with the US Department of Justice in 2011.

When the US Supreme Court overturned PASPA in its landmark ruling this year, the sports betting market opened for each state, and more than a handful of them have legalized sports wagering in some form or another thus far. The Stars Group wants its BetStars brand available to those states, and the best way to indicate its readiness to show that it`s up to the challenge was to partner with a brand known throughout the sports world: the NBA.

Deal Details

The agreement between The Stars Group and the NBA makes the former the "authorized gaming operator" of the latter in the United States.

In real terms, the deal allows The Stars Group to use official NBA betting data and league marks on all Stars sites, including BetStars, PokerStars, and PokerStars Casino. The Stars Group will also promote the NBA on its various verticals. On the other side of the coin, the NBA will promote The Stars Group brands digitally on NBA TV, NBA.com, the NBA app, and all NBA social media platforms.

The two entities will also work together to promote responsible gaming and use best-in-class practices to protect the integrity of NBA games through all forms of wagering.

Not Just Another Deal

This wasn`t the first deal of its kind to be signed in recent months. The NBA also partnered with Genius Sports and Sportradar, as well as MGM Resorts. And MGM Resorts signed similar partnerships with the National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Baseball (MLB).

So, what makes the NBA deal with The Stars Group so significant?

First, it signifies the intent of The Stars Group brands to become a significant part of the entire American online gambling market once again. While the online poker and casino markets are few thus far, the plethora of states considering sports betting legalization will expand the company`s presence and give the company the ability to represent the growth of many online gaming verticals in the coming years.

Second, the deal gives The Stars Group the legitimacy it needs to shake off the bitter taste left by the 2011 DOJ indictments. PokerStars was owned by Rational Group at the time, and some of its primary owners and executives were indicted by the US government. But since then, PokerStars has fulfilled all requests by the Department of Justice, even using its fines to repay customers from companies that disappeared in 2011, such as Full Tilt, UltimateBet, and Absolute Poker. The company is also under new ownership and leadership. This recognition by the NBA signifies that PokerStars and its sister companies are legal and operating with the blessings of the US government and major sports leagues.

Effects on Sports Betting Industry

The type of deal forged between the NBA and The Stars Group is indicative of the direction of today`s sports betting industry in America.

The top-ranked sports betting sites in states` new markets will be separated by those endorsed by the leagues and those without that support. And an "authorized gaming operator" of the NBA will be able to tout its statistics, odds, and other league data as "official" and coming directly from the NBA, giving more credibility to the sites with that authorization.

Longtime gaming writer Jennifer Newell of LegalUSPokerSites.com noted, "The average sports bettor will notice some changes on sports betting sites, most notably the logos of companies like BetStars, as well as the cross-promotion with sites like PokerStars in states where online poker is legal. For professional sports bettors, these types of deals will signify the legitimacy of certain sites and make it easier to find authorized data."

As more states legalize sports betting in 2019, more of them will offer that type of wagering in apps and online. That is when the deal with The Stars Group – and others that will sign similar agreements in the coming months – will become clearer and more obvious to bettors around the country.

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