The NFL announced Tuesday that it has partnered with Betcris, an online sportsbook based in Costa Rica and one of the most influential bookmakers in the U.S. market.
Betcris becomes the official betting partner of the NFL in Latin America and the league's second international sportsbook partner, joining TAB in Australia.
Betcris will have the rights to use NFL marks and logos and access the league's official data feed, according to a news release announcing the deal. Betcris also will be an official sponsor of the NFL International Series Games in Mexico in 2021.
"As our fan base continues to grow in Latin America, it was important that we partner with a trusted industry leader in the territory," Christopher Halpin, NFL executive vice president and director of strategy and growth, said in the release. "Betcris's capabilities in this important region, and its management team's experience and commitment to the highest standards, made it clear that it was the right partner for the NFL. We look forward to working together to attract new and existing fans in these markets."
"We are beyond excited to become the first official sports betting partner of the NFL in Latin America, and we look forward to further enhancing the experience for our users," Betcris CEO JD Duarte said in the release "This represents the culmination of years of work to make Betcris a household name in Latin America. With this partnership, Betcris now enjoys a great competitive advantage that serves our long-term goals well. The NFL has proven to be an ideal partner throughout this process and we look forward to working together."
In July, Major League Baseball also partnered with Betcris, and Duarte told ESPN at the time that his company had aspirations of entering the regulated U.S. sports betting market.
Betcris has been a prominent brand in the sports betting industry for decades, marketing itself as the sportsbook "where the line originates." The company says it stopped accepting bets from U.S. customers in 2007. Even so, Betcris maintains a strong influence on the American betting market. It has traditionally posted some of the earliest point spreads on U.S. sporting events, and the lines and odds at sportsbooks around the United States regularly gravitate toward the Betcris numbers.
In a 2018 report, The New York Times detailed multiple instances of Betcris being named by U.S. authorities in investigations into illegal bookmaking, including in 2010 and 2015. The NFL, which met with Betcris leaders in Costa Rica, became comfortable during the due-diligence process that the sportsbook is now operating lawfully.
"For the region of Latin America, we felt they were a solid partner who understood our brand in those markets and had made real progress with how they run the company and how they engage fans," Halpin told ESPN.
After decades of opposition, the NFL is embracing the evolving sports betting landscape in the United States and is planning to add more international sportsbook partners. In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, the federal sports betting statute that had restricted regulated sports betting to primarily Nevada. Since the ruling, sportsbooks have opened in 18 states and the District of Columbia, with more jurisdictions poised to launch sports betting markets in the coming months.
"We feel good, by and large, with how states have legalized [sports betting] and the approaches that have been taken," Halpin said.