PointsBet has signed a multi-year deal with Austin FC, making it a founding partner of the new MLS team and paving the way for potential access to one of the country’s most lucrative betting markets should the Texas legislature eventually legalize sports gambling.
Under the deal, PointsBet’s first in MLS, the operator will become the club’s exclusive gaming partner, spanning sports betting, fantasy and free-to-play contests. It will have marketing opportunities with the team’s media properties, like local broadcasts and podcasts, and a presence at Q2 Stadium, including a branded sports bar inside the venue.
The partnership also establishes a potential route to a future Texas gambling license. The Texas legislature considered a bill earlier this year that would grant its professional sports teams licenses that they can pass along to partners via their stadiums. Alongside the marketing deal, PointsBet has signed a 10-year market access deal with Austin FC and Q2 Stadium that would give it exclusive access to the team’s license should the law allow, according to a filing with the Australian Securities Exchange.
Both sides declined to comment on the specific terms of the deal. The filing says that the market access deal runs 10 years from the time PointsBet (ASX: PBH) takes its first bet in the state, with the operator sharing a portion of net gaming revenue, and allocating money to build a retail sportsbook at the stadium.
Majority-owned by Anthony Precourt, Austin FC made its MLS debut in April, and opened its privately financed $260 million stadium two months later. The team hoped to sign five-to-seven founding partner deals in its first two years, Austin FC president Andy Loughnane said, and PointsBet is now the sixth. It joins a stable that includes stadium naming rights partner Q2, jersey partner Yeti and jersey sleeve partner Netspend.
“MLS’s growth as a league, Austin’s emergence as a major league market and Texas’s position as one of the strongest economies in the world collectively represent a very fertile platform for a pro team to enter into a sponsorship with a partner in the sports betting category,” Loughnane said in an interview. “This is an innovative and impactful step forward.”
Though sports betting isn’t currently legal in Texas, PointsBet will have an opportunity through the media and stadium marketing to grow its brand in one of the country’s most populous states. That’s especially important for an overseas operator competing for market share with legacy casino brands and well-established U.S. companies, like DraftKings and FanDuel.
PointsBet will also offer fans in Texas a free pick ’em game, done through its partnership with NBC Sports, and make a “significant donation” to the team’s 4ATX Foundation over the first three years of the sponsorship agreement, according to the filing.
Texas has about 29 million people, making it the second largest state in the country, behind California. It has five of the 15 largest cities in the U.S. and is home to 11 teams in the five major U.S. leagues. Austin FC, however, is the only major pro franchise in the capital.
PointsBet isn’t the only operator to secure potential market access through a Texas sports team. DraftKings, for example, has a commercial partnership with the Houston Rockets (part of its $1.56 billion acquisition of the Golden Nugget’s iGaming business), which gives the bookmaker similar rights.