Sixers and Devils to pair up with Partypoker.com

Posted: January 10, 2014

New Jersey's online-gambling industry may be only seven weeks old, but it already has a different kind of suitor beyond brick-and-mortar casinos.

The 76ers and the New Jersey Devils will hold a joint news conference Thursday at the Prudential Center in Newark to announce the first-of-its-kind partnership between two professional sports franchises and the online-gaming company that owns partypoker.com.

The partners are all in to take advantage of what they say could be a potentially lucrative online-gambling market in New Jersey. Several Atlantic City casinos, in partnerships with online-gambling firms, began offering Internet gaming Nov. 26.

Partypoker.com, one of the world's leading online-poker brands, is partnered with the resort's Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, where it operates nj.partypoker.com. It will have a multimedia promotional partnership with the 76ers, Devils, and Prudential Center, home arena for the Devils.

"The multiyear deal in the online-gaming category is the first of its kind for U.S.-based sports organizations," Sixers spokesman Michael Preston said Wednesday, "and signals a continued commitment by both franchises to create and foster partnerships with the world's best brands."

Preston said the teams' partypoker.com partnership would be immediately visible with simultaneous "arena takeovers" Saturday at the Prudential Center, when the Devils host the Florida Panthers at 7 p.m., and at the Wells Fargo Center, as the Sixers play the New York Knicks at 7:30 p.m.

"In addition to a number of ... advertising and promotional elements being in place," he said, "fans will have the opportunity to sign up and sample partypoker at stations throughout the arenas, and receive exclusive offers."

New Jersey is only the third state in the nation to offer online gambling, along with Nevada and Delaware. Those who are 21 or older and physically in New Jersey can participate after setting up an account with the casinos or their Web partners.

For those who just want to play online poker for fun and not for cash, they can log on to partypoker.com from anywhere. Preston said this type of play would be sampled at the Wells Fargo Center.

Supporters say professional sports and casinos have had advertising partnerships for years, such as allowing casino banners in stadiums and arenas. This is the first online-gaming joint venture and, like the casino deals, has nothing to do with gambling on sports, they say.

The courts denied New Jersey's attempt last year to offer sports betting on professional and collegiate sports at casinos and racetracks.

Thursday's news conference is set to start at 4 p.m., in advance of the Devils vs. Dallas Stars game at the Prudential Center.

Among those in attendance will be Scott O'Neil, chief executive officer of the 76ers, Devils, and Prudential Center, and Norbert Teufelberger, CEO of Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, which owns the partypoker brand. Past Devils and Sixers players including Ken Daneyko, Jim Dowd, Darryl Dawkins, and Allen Iverson will also be on hand.

The convergence of professional sports and online gaming makes sense from a marketing standpoint, say some gaming analysts, because of the vast reach of both.

The owners of the 76ers and Devils include billionaire Joshua Harris, who cofounded the private equity firm Apollo Global Management L.L.C. Apollo owns Caesars Entertainment Corp., which owns several casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and several states, and has its own online-gaming operation, World Series of Poker.

The four Caesars-owned casinos in Atlantic City have an online-gaming partnership with 888 Holdings.


sparmley@phillynews.com

856-779-3928 @SuzParmley

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