DraftKings adds authorized gaming rights to MLB alignment

Major League Baseball has expanded its long-running alignment with Boston-based fantasy sports and gaming operator DraftKings to allow for the use of official league data, marks, and logos within the company’s sports betting products.

The multiyear agreement, designating DraftKings as an authorized gaming operator of MLB, expands upon a relationship between the two that has existed since 2013. Since then the two entities have collaborated on a series of projects, including the integration of official league marks into DraftKings’ pay-based daily fantasy games. 

That five-year daily fantasy deal, covering the 2015-19 seasons, continues as a separate agreement, and negotiations for an extension there have begun. The added gambling rights were struck in a new agreement for the other primary portion of DraftKings’ business.

Financial terms were not disclosed. MLB for roughly six years held an equity stake in DraftKings, making it the first US pro sports league to invest in the company, but that interest was sold earlier this year in a private transaction. Following last year’s US Supreme Court decision allowing individual states to legalize sports wagering and DraftKings’ subsequent move to enter that market, MLB elected to not be a shareholder in a gambling operation. 

Instead, MLB like other US leagues has moved down a licensing-focused path in which it strikes deals with companies for various official designations within the legalized gaming arena. MGM Resorts International is also an authorized gaming operator with the league, along with additional rights that company holds with baseball, and the league expects to sign deals to designate other authorized gaming operators.

“This deal speaks to the commitment we have to our customers and sports leagues alike while providing the safest and most entertaining American-made sportsbook,” said Ezra Kucharz, DraftKings chief business officer. “As a result of this agreement, our customers will experience enhanced live wagering offerings for all MLB games.”

MLB’s official live data feed being provided to its authorized gaming operators includes advanced Statcast data, which is eyed as a fundamental component toward creating new avenues of fan engagement.

“The tools provided to DraftKings….will be central to creating these powerful new ways to consume and connect with our sport,” said Kenny Gersh, MLB executive vice president of gaming and new business ventures.

The MLB deal extends a busy week for DraftKings in which it also signed a multiyear content and marketing partnership with the PGA Tour.