Yahoosports-MGM Deal Breaks New Ground; But are We on Terra Firma?

Published November 14, 2019 by Lee R

Yahoosports-MGM Deal Breaks New Ground; But are We on Terra Firma?

The transformation of a sports news service into a betting platform by Verizon needs to have protections in place.

Well, we knew the PASPA repeal would change the landscape, but it is still fascinating to watch how sweeping changes unfold.

Transitioning from Sports to Betting

Most have heard of the MGM Grand-Yahoosports partnership between subsidiaries of MGM Resorts International and Verizon Communications Inc. that will mainstream sports betting to the masses through a highly popular sports news service.

The Deal

The digital media sports partnership between Yahoo Sports and BetMGM launches almost immediately to deliver sports wagering and fantasy sports games for Yahoo through MGM’s Roar Digital, along with new content experiences and live sports which include over 20 high-profile events.

MGM benefits from gaining access the yahoo Sports App's 60 million U.S. users.

Launch

The multi-year partnership will launch on the Yahoo sports app in November in the US, with betting transactions to take place on the BetMGM platform, with Yahoo Sports being christened an official “Digital Media Sports Partner” of MGM Resorts.

The New Yahoosports App

In other words, the Yahoosports app becomes a direct pipeline into sports betting, where users can bet on content which includes the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, football, college sports, baseball, soccer, golf and tennis.

MGM CEO Speaks

As for MGM's motivation, MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren put it thusly:

“Integrating Yahoo’s leading fantasy sports operations and content with BetMGM’s world-class sports betting and interactive platform uniquely positions us to drive market share and large-scale adoption among sports fans.”

Verizon Organizational Mission

Yahoosports is owned by Verizon media, a division of conglomerate Verizon communications. Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan says the partnership will provide sports fans with a way to “go beyond engaging with content and interact through commerce.” Gowrappan further commented that this is consistent with his organization's strategy of “building products that connect consumers to their passions and drive the deepest end-to-end value possible.”

League Commissioners Echo 

NBA and NHL commissioners laud the deal as a way to enhance fan engagement. What this appears to translate to is increased interactivity and innovative ways to bet, such as increased in-play betting on a widespread platform harnessing sports audiences.

The Glaring Challenge

The enhanced Yahoosports betting tool also leaves users vulnerable to their addictions, and sports fans vulnerable to temptation.

New Audience

Discerning Yahoosports users are going to note the difference, and possibly stop using the app. However, a wealth of sports punters in America will invariably warm to the app, bringing out a whole new segment of gambling enthusiasts who will bet on sports because of the new convenience of availability and heightened engagement.

The New Landscape

With Yahoosports now being positioned as a gambling portal rather than a sports information provider, league commissioners are rolling with the changes in their agreement to sponsor and endorse the gaming industry in order to share in the revenues from an industry which inherently leaves many vulnerable to addiction or corruption.

Outlook

As indicated previously in other jurisdictions, a self-exclusion mechanism will need to be put in place to address this new reality, with proper controls needed proactively and as soon as possible to adapt as to protect the wide range of US public whom new mainstreaming deals such as Yahoo-MGM market sports betting directly affect in the post-PASPA era.

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