The Detroit Pistons are the latest NBA team to partner with a sportsbook, and their deal announced Monday is a notable one because they are doing it in conjunction with two of the biggest rivals in the industry, DraftKings and FanDuel.
“We are partnering with two of the biggest companies in the industry, both of which cast a wide net, and it will allow us to create promotional activations as we look to engage with our fan base,” said Mike Zavodsky, the Pistons’ chief business officer, in a phone interview with TheLines.
What the deal means for Pistons fans, Michigan bettors
FanDuel and DraftKings, as the official sports betting partners of the Pistons, will have access to the use of official Pistons marks and logos. Each partnership will include a mix of marketing aspects, including in-arena signage and activations, television and digital advertising, and TV and radio presences.
“This partnership with the Pistons will, for the first time, connect our online and retail sports betting operations with a team partner,” FanDuel spokesman Kevin Hennessy told TheLines. “Whether it is special in-arena experiences or game day events and watch parties at MotorCity Casino, Pistons fans will be able to really try out the FanDuel Sportsbook sports betting experience.”
For the Pistons, who have made the NBA Playoffs just twice since 2010, the deal announced Monday is
a way to allow legalized sports betting companies to become a conduit in the franchise’s efforts to rebuild a fan base that has grown dormant in recent years as the team moved from Auburn Hills to midtown Detroit.
In-arena betting at Little Caesars Arena will be permitted on mobile apps but not at kiosks, because kiosks have been deemed unnecessary because of the peculiarities of the Michigan sports gambling law. Online sports betting in Michigan is set to kick off in late December or early in 2021.
In addition to the launch date of online sports betting in Michigan still being unknown, it has still not been determined whether the Pistons will be allowed to have fans in the arena for the start of the upcoming 2020-21 NBA season. But once the pandemic is behind us, there are some particularly fan-friendly aspects of the deal the Pistons struck.
Somebody will be chosen as “Piston for a Day” as part of the DraftKings Sportsbook part of the deal, which will entail signing a one-day contract with the team, shooting around at the practice facility and getting VIP treatment at the arena.
“We are excited to team up with the Detroit Pistons ahead of our pending market introduction where Michiganders can soon legally wager on many of their favorite sports,” said Ezra Kucharz, Chief Business Officer at DraftKings. “This agreement comes just ahead of the NBA’s highly-anticipated return, and we look forward to Pistons fans immersing themselves in the sports betting space.”
Michigan’s law requires sportsbooks to partner with casinos in order to obtain an operating license that will allow for mobile betting.
In the case of the Australian-owned sportsbook PointsBet, that means a partnership in the sparsely populated Upper Peninsula where the the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians operates the Northern Waters Casino Resort in Watersmeet (population 1,366 in 2018). PointsBet spokesman Patrick Eichner noted that the agreement allows Michigan to become the first state in which PointsBet will launch an online casino product.
Pistons starting from scratch
For the Pistons, the deal with DK and FD also gives the franchise an opportunity to push its logo and identity transformation associated with the 313 area code. Uniform changes for the Pistons are in the works, although the NBA requires teams to propose those types of changes at least one year in advance of possible approval.
Detroit is entering a rebuilding stage after trading away Andre Drummond at the deadline last February, then hiring a new general manager, Troy Weaver. The Pistons had the No. 7 pick in the draft and selected 19-year-old French point guard Killian Hayes. Their biggest offseason free agency acquisition was former Denver Nuggets forward Jerami Grant.
Weaver will likely spend much of the season trying to trade away veterans Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose as the rebuild continues. Oddsmakers have the Pistons listed along with the Cavs and Knicks as the longest shots in the NBA to win the championship, around +25000 at most books.