bwin.party digital entertainment has sealed landmark deals to sponsor NBA basketball team the Philadelphia 76ers and NHL ice hockey team the New Jersey Devils through its New Jersey-licensed PartyPoker brand.
The partnerships are expected to be confirmed at a joint news conference at the Prudential Centre in New Jersey later today, and mark the first instance of an online gambling company backing a professional US sports team.
The deals will see PartyPoker branding feature around both of the teams' arenas - the 76ers’ Wells Fargo Centre in Philadelphia and the Devils’ Prudential Centre in New Jersey. The operator will also set up booths in the Devils stadium, where spectators will be able to learn more about PartyPoker and try the game online, in order to ramp up interest in the product.
Similar to bwin.party’s existing deals with European sports teams, the partnerships will also cover multimedia channels, giving PartyPoker a presence on internet ads featuring the team and on TV spots. The operator will also be able to offer fans the chance to win prizes such as tickets for concerts and special events.
PartyPoker will begin its sponsorship this Saturday, with the Devils taking on the Florida Panthers at the Prudential Centre and the 76ers playing the New York Knicks at the Wells Fargo Centre.
Both teams are owned by Josh Harris, co-founder of Apollo Global Management. He bought the 76ers in 2011 and assumed control of the Devils last year.
Since the NBA's Nets franchise moved to Brooklyn in 2012, the Devils are currently the only major sports franchise to maintain a presence in the state of New Jersey.
While basketball, baseball and ice hockey teams are permitted to partner with gambling companies, American football and association football clubs are banned from partnering with such businesses. Caesars Entertainment previously backed the New York Mets baseball team, while the Mohegan Sun casino backs the city’s Yankees franchise.
Both the NBA and NHL have commented that bwin.party's sponsorship deals do not breach league policy as the NJ.partypoker.com website does not include any reference to sports betting, which remains banned in all but four US states.