NBA, FanDuel expand partnership to include sports betting

The NBA and FanDuel announced Tuesday that they are expanding their partnership to include sports betting through a multiyear deal centered on marketing and official league data.

FanDuel, a daily fantasy provider that began offering traditional sports betting in 2018, will become an authorized gaming operator of the NBA, gain access to official league data and be allowed to use league marks and logos across its platforms. FanDuel operates sportsbooks in New Jersey and West Virginia.

Financial terms of the NBA-FanDuel expanded partnership were not disclosed.

FanDuel has been the official daily fantasy partner of the NBA since 2014. It was one of the first partnerships between a major professional sports league and a daily fantasy operator. The NBA previously owned an equity stake in FanDuel, but divested earlier this year when the company entered the sports betting space, while maintaining a commercial relationship. The expanded deal does not include equity.

"We expect there to be significant innovation around sports betting products in the U.S. and given the innovative partnership we've had with FanDuel around fantasy, we're excited to extend the partnership to include sports betting," said Scott Kaufman-Ross, head of fantasy and gaming for the NBA.

It's the third such deal for the NBA, as the league continues to expand its footprint in the growing legal U.S. sports betting market. The NBA also has partnered with sports betting providers MGM Resorts International and The Stars Group (headquartered in Toronto).

FanDuel CEO Matt King said he believes the partnership with the NBA -- specifically the official data feed -- will improve the product by allowing for more in-game betting options and keeping those markets open for longer periods during games.

"We recognize the importance of building trust with the fans in a relatively new category like this," King said. "A part of that is having the league endorse the way we approach and deliver the product."

King said FanDuel has had discussions with other sports leagues and that "everybody is talking to everybody" as the new legal sports betting market in the U.S. begins to take shape.

Like the NBA, Major League Baseball and the NHL also have created sports betting partnerships with gaming operators. The NFL, according to industry sources, is having similar discussions with gaming operators. King believes these partnerships between sports leagues and sports betting operators are key to the success of the overall sports betting industry in the future.

"We all have a vested interest in making sure that sports betting is a fun experience for people, and is an experience that only serves to improve and enhance the game as it exists today," King told ESPN. "Discussions with leagues about what their concerns are and what they see as opportunities, for us, is an important part of being a responsible operator.

"We look at the discussions and partnerships with the leagues as important to make sure as the category evolves that they feel like it's something that they truly get behind and support as opposed to trying to do something that runs against the grain of what they're trying to do. At the end of the day, we both believe in the power of improving fan engagement."

During the 2017-18 season, there were more than 104 million entries in NBA daily fantasy games on FanDuel. According to the league, participants in NBA InPlay contests watch an NBA game on average 56 percent longer than viewers who aren't playing the game.