MGM Resorts International and new professional football league, The Alliance of American Football (AAF), have entered into a transaction that includes an investment in The Alliance and a three-year sponsorship establishing MGM Resorts as its official sports betting sponsor and exclusive gaming partner.
Founded by TV and film producer Charlie Ebersol and Hall of Famer Bill Polian, the AFF features eight teams under a single entity structure, playing a 12-week season that kicks into action on February 9, 2019 on CBS and culminating with the championship game the weekend of April 26-28, 2019.
For MGM Resorts, the investment encapsulates its forward-looking view on the combination of live sports, real-time second-generation stats, and fan engagement – either for fun or for those who may choose to wager. The AAF’s new technology, meanwhile, will create a state-of-the-art experience for fans as it continues to build its media and technology platform as part of the launch of the new league.
For The Alliance, the partnership aligns the league with one of the US’ foremost gaming operators and gives the sports entity the ability to utilize MGM Resorts’ vast experience and operations with mobile gaming. When the AAF takes the historic first snap in February 2019, fans will be able to stream Alliance matchups for free through its first-of-its-kind app, while accessing integrated gaming with real rewards.
Additionally, in states where sports gambling is legal, the sports betting platform owned and operated by MGM GVC Interactive will provide fans with in-game wagering while also still providing traditional sports betting.
“We are excited to team with The Alliance on this unprecedented partnership, which allows us to fully engage with fans and revolutionize the fan experience,” said MGM Resorts chairman and CEO, Jim Murren. “We look forward to expanding our customer base into this exciting new league and sports betting opportunity.”
AAF’s CEO and co-founder Ebersol noted: “Our focus has always been to bring together best-in-class partners to build a spring football league that will change the landscape of professional sports. We realized our overall mission and vision were in complete alignment with MGM. As one of the world’s largest and most successful gaming companies, and an industry leader in innovation, together we can revolutionize the sports wagering experience for fans in a way that’s never been done before. I’m proud to welcome them to the Alliance as our first official corporate investor.”
SBC Americas analysis: This is an interesting tie-up between one of the biggest names from the world of gaming and a new football league that isn’t the first to chance its arm in a sport that’s dominated by the NFL. The Alliance of American Football follows the World Football League, the USFL and the XFL in a mercifully brief list of outfits that have tried to make a name for themselves in the game. Hopefully for the Alliance the outcome will be more favorable than that experienced by its ill-fated predecessors, each of which withered on the vine. In fairness, this is a more tech-savvy attempt at greatness by the AAF, and with MGM’s backing there is a whole host of opportunities that can be used to engage fans, specifically through live sports wagering and in-game betting. In essence, this may be a sponsorship deal in name, but it’s tailor-made to take advantage of the newly regulated US sports betting sector.