Detroit Pistons Announce Partnerships With FanDuel, DraftKings Ahead Of Michigan Launch

The next season for the Pistons could kick off around the time Michigan sees online/mobile sportsbooks hit cyberspace.
Little Caesars Arena

The Detroit Pistons are making some moves ahead of Michigan’s launch of online/mobile sports betting and online casinos in the coming weeks.

On Monday, the NBA franchise announced multi-year partnerships with FanDuel Group and DraftKings Inc., making both rival sportsbooks the official sports betting partners of the Pistons. The deal gives both books access to official team marks and logos.

Furthermore, the deals provide FanDuel and DraftKings with in-arena signage and activations at the Little Caesars Arena, as well as television, radio, and digital advertising.

The deal with FanDuel includes the Pistons partnering with the MotorCity Casino Hotel, where FanDuel has a retail gambling space. The casino-hotel, which is currently closed, is owned by Marian Ilitch, whose Ilitch Holdings also owns the Little Caesars Arena. The family doesn’t own the Pistons franchise, but it does own the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Red Wings. Ilitch Holdings does not own FanDuel.

DraftKings has partnered with the Bay Mills Indian Community and Penn National Gaming for online gambling in Michigan, as required by law passed in 2019.

Sportsbooks see partnership as key to Michigan market

The next NBA season is expected to begin Dec. 22, roughly around the time Michigan could launch online gambling. The NBA is the No. 2 most popular sport for gambling.

The Pistons are currently in rebuilding mode, but recent moves show a willingness to build a contender. Coupled with its embrace of sports betting, the Pistons franchise has its eyes set squarely on the future. FanDuel lists the Pistons at +24000 to win the 2020-21 NBA title, the third-longest odds among the 30 teams, while DraftKings has established an over/under of 32.5 wins for the upcoming season.

“We appreciate the partnership-minded and collaborative approach that both FanDuel and DraftKings brought to the table,” said Detroit Pistons Chief Business Officer Mike Zavodsky.  “We look forward to utilizing our platform to help each grow their presence within and connectivity to the Pistons and greater Detroit Metro communities.”

FanDuel and DraftKings both praised the Pistons for their forward thinking on sports gambling.

“The Pistons are a progressive and forward-thinking franchise committed to its fans, and we see an incredibly valuable partnership opportunity as we connect our retail sportsbook experience with Pistons game action in the arena,” said Mike Raffensperger, chief media officer at FanDuel. “This new relationship will create unique approaches for us to reach Pistons fans. With the FanDuel Sportsbook at MotorCity Casino and mobile gaming offerings on the FanDuel Sportsbook app, we will together offer engaging experiences both inside and outside the arena.”

DraftKings Chief Business Officer Ezra Kucharz commented: “As our first professional team activation in the state of Michigan, we are thrilled to join forces with the Detroit Pistons ahead of our pending market introduction. This deal deepens our relationship with a prominent local team to facilitate more immersive fan experiences, both for Michiganders familiar with regulated gaming products as well as newcomers.”

NBA continues to benefit from legal sports betting

Terms of the partnerships were not disclosed. The American Gaming Association has estimated that the NBA stands to benefit to the tune of $160 million annually in “revenue paid directly from betting operators, in the form of sponsorship, advertising, and product fees.”

Both FanDuel and DraftKings have deals with the NBA itself for access to data, logos, and marks.

The deal marks FanDuel’s second partnership with an NBA franchise, following the book linking up with the Memphis Grizzlies. The state of Tennessee began sports wagering on Nov. 1, with FanDuel being one of four mobile books live in the state.

DraftKings has been busier on the NBA front, inking similar deals with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Boston Celtics, and the Indiana Pacers. Massachusetts doesn’t yet have legal sports betting, but Pennsylvania and Indiana both have robust online betting markets.

DraftKings is also live in Tennessee, but it does not have a deal with the Grizzlies.


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