The WinStar World Casino in Oklahoma and the Dallas Cowboys – one of the National Football League’s storied franchises – announced a first of its kind partnership deal Thursday.
Financial details were not disclosed but leadership of the Chickasaw Nation Tribe and the NFL franchise touted the agreement as a “league-changing partnership.”
The NFL has long avoided any association with casino gaming. However, a year ago the Oakland Raiders agreed to move to Las Vegas and a $1.8 billion stadium is under construction within view of the Las Vegas Strip. The 65,000-seat domed stadium is expected to open for 2020 NFL season.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in May allowed any state to legalize and regulate sports betting, which in turn, softened the opposition of professional sports’ leagues toward gambling.
Since June, regulated sports books have opened in casinos and racetracks in New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi and West Virginia, joining Nevada’s long-standing sport gambling community.
The deal between WinStar and the Cowboys marks the first time in NFL history that a casino has been granted official designation as a team’s exclusive partner, granting exclusive use of a team’s logos and trademarks. An amendment passed by NFL owners created the opportunity for casinos to obtain official partnerships with NFL teams.
The announcement was made less than 24 hours after the American Gaming Association released a Nielson Sports study that showed legalized sports betting would increase league revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars per year, with most of that money coming from higher viewership and advertising sales.
The Nielsen Sports study determined the NFL could increase its annual revenue by as much as $2.3 billion.
“WinStar’s partnership with America’s team, the Dallas Cowboys, is a continuation of the mainstreaming of casino gaming,” said AGA Vice President of Strategic Communications Casey Clark. “This is a great example of the kind of lucrative partnerships forecasted in AGA’s recent research about the significant economic opportunities for the NFL and its teams from widespread, legal sports betting.”
“The Dallas Cowboys take great pride in aligning themselves with the best brands in the world,” Jones said. “It is a privilege to stand shoulder to shoulder as partners with such a prominent entertainment brand like WinStar World Casino.”
WinStar is considered the largest casino in the Western Hemisphere with a 560,000 square foot casino floor that is home to 8,100 slot machines, 99 table games, and a 55-table poker room and the nearly 1,400-room hotel.
“Hundreds of Chickasaws live in the Dallas area and the Dallas Cowboys are a vital part of the community,” Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby said in a statement. “While this partnership is a great business deal, that is only one of the reasons we are excited to be involved with the Dallas Cowboys and the Jones family.”
Anoatubby said that the tribe has always had a close connection with Dallas and North Texas.
While Oklahoma is considered the nation’s second-largest Indian casino state in terms of gaming revenue – trailing only California – Texas has long shied away from legalizing commercial casinos. Efforts have failed over the years in the Texas Legislature.
The NFL season starts Thursday with the Atlanta Falcons-Philadelphia Eagles game, marking the first regular season game where Philadelphia fans can cross the Delaware River and place a legal wager on the Eagles in New Jersey.
The Nielson Study found that the NFL had total national revenue of $8.16 billion in 2017, according to several media reports. Local revenue, including merchandise and ticket sales, brought the league total to almost $13.1 billion.
Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter