The NFL Is Gambling On Some Big Fantasy Sports (Betting) Deals

Written By Marc Meltzer | Last Updated

FanDuel and the Indianapolis Colts have embarked on an exclusive partnership that makes FanDuel the “Official Fantasy Sports Partner of the Colts.” Through the partnership, the Colts and FanDuel will work to engage fans using a range of marketing assets that includes in-stadium digital signage, in-game promotions to digital, radio, and TV advertising.

This deal has nothing to do with sports betting — technically — even though sports betting is now legal in Indiana and FanDuel is operating a retail sportsbook in the state with plans to launch a mobile operation in the near future.

The NFL is dealing

This deal between the Colts and FanDuel comes on the heels of DraftKings and the NFL signing a DFS deal. DraftKings is the first-ever Official Daily Fantasy Partner of the NFL. This deal gives DraftKings league-wide marketing rights. The “DFS” company will also have access to data if they want to create new contests.

Both of these deals with “fantasy sports” operators are technically not sports betting deals. They are officially DFS deals. Likewise, Caesars is the “official casino partner” of the NFL. The deal does not include sports betting specifically.

Caesars can still use the NFL brand and teams in marketing its properties. For example, the Play For Rewards NFL promotion allows gamblers at Caesars to collect NFL game pieces to win rewards for money they spend gambling. Technically, this isn’t a sports betting promotion. However, Caesars customers can earn tier credits for this contest from betting on sports.

So what’s the big deal here?

Technically, none of these deals have anything to do with sports betting. However, most customers of FanDuel, DraftKings, and Caesars won’t know the difference. Sports fans and bettors will see a sportsbook operator that is connected to the NFL.

Professional branding can weave a tiny thread through a tiny hole. The lines continue to blur between DFS and sports betting. These new deals just make the NFL another step closer to sports betting. DraftKings and FanDuel might be DFS companies — technically. Caesars might be more than a casino operator – technically.

FanDuel isn’t even trying to hide that this deal is about DFS only. It’s about branding the company as one. Matt King, CEO of FanDuel says, “As we continue to expand our nationwide footprint, we are always looking for ways to engage sports fans throughout the country, and specifically in the Midwest.” Of course, FanDuel’s DFS contests have been available to much of the country for years.

Does the consumer see the difference? Not very likely. At the end of the day, the NFL is treading closer and closer to attaching its name to sports betting companies. The customer might see some cool new promotions with their favorite sportsbook operator but there won’t be anything technically linking the NFL to sports betting. Technically.