By Hilary Russ
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Major League Soccer said on Tuesday that Roar Digital LLC, a joint venture between MGM Resorts International and GVC Holdings PLC, would be its exclusive sports betting partner, the league's first.
The multi-year deal also makes MGM the league's first official gaming partner, though not an exclusive one. It also provides MGM and Roar access to league data for fans and sports bettors, according to a statement.
"Major League Soccer is proud to partner with MGM Resorts to bring existing and new fans close to our sport in innovative and immersive ways," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in the statement.
Marketing rights are also included, with the sportsbook operators allowed to post visible signs for more than 100 nationally broadcast MLS games.
The deal makes MGM a partner with yet another major sports league after it inked similar agreements with the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball.
The National Football League named Caesars Entertainment Corp as its first casino partner in January, but that deal did not include sports betting.
The deals come in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May 2018 that allowed states to legalize, regulate and tax sports wagering.
Less than a year later, eight states now offer legal sports wagering, including Nevada, which was always allowed to offer such bets.
Bookmakers, casinos, leagues, teams, media companies, data providers and others are seeking to capitalize on the brand new U.S. sports betting market that is now evolving state by state.
Professional sports leagues, which previously fought legalization because of fears it could lead to match fixing, now hope that the spread of legal sports betting will help engage fans and drive up the value of their teams.
MLS' partnership will also develop a free game that can help "drive adoption of sports betting" in states that have already legalized it and build a base of potential bettors in those that have yet to adopt it, the statement said.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
(Reporting by Hilary Russ, editing by G Crosse)