As was first reported on Wednesday, Party Poker has signed an agreement with two historic sports franchises, the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils that will make Party Poker the official online gaming partner of both teams.
More details of the deal have come to light during a scheduled press conference Thursday afternoon and a subsequent press release by Party Poker, and as we are already seeing, this agreement goes way beyond signs and broadcast advertising. This could very well be the game changer the US online poker industry has been waiting for; this is the FIRST advancement beyond what the old unregulated market offered back in 2006; this is why licensed online poker is different.
It’s not just about access to online poker sites, fast transaction times, and some peace of mind in the security of your money; it’s about the ability to market to people outside of poker.
This agreement between partypoker, the New Jersey Devils, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Prudential Center is a really BIG deal; even more of a big deal than similar agreements already in place in Europe…
Precedent in Europe
Relationships between online gambling sites and major sports teams may be new in the United States, but these arrangements are quite common in other regulated markets, and bwin.party (the parent company of Party Poker) is one of the most prolific marketers of top-tier European soccer teams.
Bwin has a number of relationships with some of the most recognizable brands in sports, and can count Manchester United of the Barclays Premier League in England, Bayern Munich of Germany’s Bundesliga, Juventus in Italy’s Series A, and Real Madrid of La Liga in Spain, among its sports partners –a veritable who’s who of Champions League Football.
European soccer fans are used to seeing names like bwin, BetFair, and Bet365 adorning the uniforms of their favorite team, and signage for these companies strewn throughout the stadium. And while it’s unlikely the 76ers uniforms will have a Party Poker logo attached to it, we are going to see courtside advertisements and all of the other branding efforts like radio and TV spots, as well as exclusive contests like the Dream Seat Series that was announced today.
Reason #1 that this is a BIG deal
The most obvious advantage of Party Poker’s new agreements with the New Jersey Devils and the Philadelphia 76ers will be the increased brand recognition, and perhaps even more importantly, the raised awareness of “legal” online poker’s availability in New Jersey.
As Chris Grove of OnlinePokerReport.com points out, “Total home game attendance for the two teams exceeded one million in the last full season. Millions more took in games via television and radio.” Not to mention the tens-of-millions of TV viewers throughout the season.
Not only does this raise the awareness of Party Poker, but there is a lot of crossover between the two industries key demographics, twenty-something males, and with the announcement of special NJ.PartyPoker.com registration areas inside the arenas, it would seem that partypoker is only going to increase their already sizable lead in New Jersey.
Reason #2 that this is a BIG deal
In addition to getting the word out about legal online poker and Party Poker, this type of mainstream advertising will help legitimize the budding online poker industry in the United States.
With the NBA and NHL signing off on this deal, and partypoker about to take part in the first real mainstream media blitz by a US online poker room, we should see a lot of movement towards legitimizing the iGaming industry in the US.
As it stands, a lot of people are completely unaware that online poker is legal in certain states, and a lot of companies like PayPal, Bank of America, and interestingly enough Wells Fargo, whose name adorns the 76ers home arena, are still denying online gambling transactions, even in jurisdictions where it is legal.
The new deal should help assuage the fears of people and some of these businesses that online poker is indeed entering an era of legitimacy. This deal, that will bring online poker advertising right into mainstream America’s living room –without the viewer having to watch a dedicated poker show—could lead to an incredible number of new signups, not just at partypoker, although they will certainly be the chief beneficiary, but at all online poker rooms across the country.
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