History is being made by the Houston Astros. BetMGM just recently announced that they are now the exclusive sports betting partner of the MLB franchise, a development that marks the first agreement struck between a professional sports team in Texas and sports betting and gaming company. If you're wondering what this means for the future of sports gambling in the state, you're not alone. We're right there with you, and we're ready to investigate.
There still isn't legal sports betting in Texas, but it sure seems like that could change soon. Why else would the Houston Astros become the first Texas team to ink a deal with a sports betting partner if gambling wasn't going to be greenlit throughout the state?
Obviously, we can't be sure. Corporate sponsorships aren't always an indicator of forthcoming state policy. But there's also no denying the magnitude of this news and what it could mean for the future of sports betting in Texas.
Details of Houston Astros' Partnership with BetMGM
With legal online betting in the USA now standard in 30-plus states, the professional sports landscape is no stranger to partnerships getting agreed upon between sportsbooks operators and franchises. But the Astros' deal with powerhouse sportsbook BetMGM is unique because the Houston Astros aren't located in a state that has legalized online gambling. Along with California and Georgia, Texas remains one of the three most shocking holdouts at a time when sports betting has never had more support.
To be honest, it's bizarre this partnership can even exist before the state changes their stance on sports betting. It's even more bizarre than the relationship doesn't appear to have any special limitations placed upon it for the time being. Per the terms of the new deal, the Houston Astros will "prominently" feature BetMGM signage at Minute Maid Park, which is their home field. BetMGM will also have a "permanent outfield wall sign and rotational promotional messaging behind the home plate."
That's not all, either. According to BetMGM, "Astros fans will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of VIP experiences exclusive to BetMGM customers." These experiences range from throwing out the first pitch at an Astros game and on-field access during batting practice to VIP getaways and other undisclosed benefits.
By now, you might have noticed that there don't appear to be any special betting promotions available to Astros fans at BetMGM. This makes sense since sports betting isn't legalized in Texas. But that doesn't mean BetMGM and the Astros have not found a workaround.
BetMGM Betting Big on Sports Gambling in Texas
As part of the deal between BetMGM and the Houston Astros, the two sides will team up to deliver special bonuses and promotions to customers in Louisiana. This might feel random, but it's not. The Astros have minor league affiliates in the state of Louisiana, where sports betting is legal, which allows BetMGM special access to potential gambling customers without violating Texas law.
Pay special attention to the timing of all this. Louisiana officially rolled out legal sports betting at the end of January. It's not a coincidence that the Astros and BetMGM announced this deal less than three months later. It's clearly been in the works for a while.
Of course, gaining influence in Lousiana through Houston's minor league fanbase is by no means BetMGM's endgame. Though the financial parameters of this deal aren't disclosed, sportsbook operators have generally been paying boatloads of money to link up with professional sports franchises. This, then, is a roll of the dice by BetMGM. They are wagering on Texas eventually legalizing sports betting, at which time they'll already have a foothold in the market through one of the state's flagship franchises. And relative to what other sportsbook operators will pay teams after sports betting gets legalized, BetMGM's relationship with the Astros will register as a discount, since it was signed before any active promotions and campaigns could take place inside of Texas.
Does Deal Between BetMGM and Houston Astros Mean Sports Betting is Coming to Texas?
As we mentioned previously, the Houston Astros and BetMGM aren't soothsayers. Sports betting won't arrive in Texas simply because they agreed to shack up with another. Really, it's more like the other way around: BetMGM and the Astros are in business together because it's pretty clear that sports betting will soon arrive in Texas.
Local government officials such as Beto O'Rourke have been increasingly outspoken in support of legal sports betting over the past few months. Some incumbents are still openly against it, but generally speaking, the state seems to be recognizing the potential economic benefits of collecting tax revenue on wagers that, quite frankly, are being placed already with offshore sportsbooks.
Does this mean it's time for you to brush up on our reviews of the top online sportsbooks so you'll be ready to place a wager whenever Texas officially changes their policy? Sure. But you've got time before anything to seismic happens. Texas' sports betting bill isn't scheduled to be voted on until the 2022 elections this coming November. And after that, the state still needs to build up their sports betting infrastructure, a process that can take up to more than a year.
Still, the promise of something is better than an assurance of nothing. And while the tone surrounding legal sports betting can continue to change in Texas, this latest deal between the Houston Astros and BetMGM suggests the widespread support it's currently getting is here to stay.
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