The last domino has fallen.

The NFL on Thursday announced its “first ever official casino sponsor,” handing out the honor to Caesars Entertainment.

While legalized sports betting is rapidly growing across the country, the professional football league becomes the last of the four major sports leagues in the United States to bring on an “official” sponsor.

That said, per the press release, this Caesars deal falls in “the casino category only and does not include sports betting, daily fantasy or hotels/resorts.”

“We couldn’t be more excited to work with one of the world’s largest gaming and entertainment companies,” Renie Anderson, senior vice president of NFL Partnerships, Sponsorship and Consumer Products, said in the release.

“Combining the NFL with Caesars’ expertise in world-class entertainment will provide our fans unique experiences both here in the United States and abroad.”

Analysis of the Caesars-NFL deal

The financial terms of the multiyear partnership, which begins with the 2019 NFL playoffs, were not disclosed.

As noted above, the partnership applies only to “casino” gaming and does not include sports betting. Such a clause comes at an interesting time, considering the expansion of regulated wagering as well as Caesars’ sports betting footprint, which includes brick-and-mortar and online sports betting in New Jersey.

Regardless of the casino-only approach, the NFL’s ties with Caesars now offers the league a way into the sports betting industry should it decide to do so.

Such deals already exist with the other three major leagues: NBANHL, and MLB. And all have MGM Resorts International as the “official gaming partner” of the leagues.

What’s included in the partnership?

Starting with the NFL Playoffs, which kick off Saturday, Caesars will provide “unique experiences for NFL fans by using its casino properties, celebrity chefs, premier music artists and a wide range of entertainment elements.”

Also from the release:

“Caesars will have the exclusive right to use NFL trademarks in the United States and the United Kingdom to promote Caesars casino properties and activate at key NFL events including the Super Bowl and NFL Draft.”

From Mark Frissora, president and CEO of Caesars Entertainment:

“All of us at Caesars Entertainment are thrilled to be the first-ever casino partner of the NFL, the most prominent sports league in North America. Combining the league’s 180 million fans with our 55 million Total Rewards loyalty program members will expose millions of people to the exclusive and exciting year-round opportunities at our properties.”

For its part, Caesars has operations in 13 states, including several with legalized sports betting activated (New Jersey, MississippiPennsylvania) or with regulated wagering on the horizon.

Caesars locking down NFL partnerships

Caesars Entertainment has already begun establishing itself as a known NFL entity.

Seven franchises, for example, have entered into deals of some capacity with Caesars:

  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Chicago Bears
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Oakland Raiders
  • Philadelphia Eagles

As for the NFL, this partnership brings the league closer than it’s ever been to sports betting and gambling.

While the league ensured that the deal only pertains to the casino, the NFL still joins forces with a gambling giant with roots deep in regulated sports betting.

Consider, too, the Raiders’ relocation to Las Vegas the same year in which Sin City hosts the 2020 NFL Draft.

Who knows, really, how long the league keeps sports betting at arm’s length? Perhaps soon Caesars will add the “official sports betting partner of the NFL” jewel to its crown down the road.

Grant Lucas

About

Grant Lucas is a longtime sportswriter who has covered the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield, and Oregon State athletics and the Portland Trail Blazers throughout his career.