Bally’s Inks Historic Sports Betting Partnership With Phoenix Mercury as Shareholders OK Gamesys Deal

  • The WNBA franchise deal is the largest team-level investment in women’s professional sports
  • The link-up also marks the first gaming access deal with a professional women’s team
  • Pending certification, Bally’s will operate a retail and digital sports betting service in Arizona
  • Bally’s combination with Gamesys is set to capitalize on US sports betting, iGaming markets
  • Gamesys CEO said the combination would offer “a unique and differentiated approach to gaming”
Phoenix Mercury players on the basketball court
Bally’s ended June in impressive style by inking a historic partnership with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and getting shareholder approval for a business combination with Gamesys. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A productive June

Bally’s Corporation signed off on a productive June by inking a historic partnership with the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) franchise Phoenix Mercury, while company shareholders gave their approval for a business combination with Gamesys Group plc.

The Arizona sports franchise took to Twitter on June 30 to announce the groundbreaking sports betting and sponsorship partnership with Bally’s:

The 3D-animated presentation accompanying the tweet indicated that the deal represented

the largest team-level investment in women’s professional sports history.”

Also on June 30, Bally’s Corporation announced that its shareholders and those of London-based Gamesys approved a business combination of the two parties. An official news release indicated Q4 of 2021 as the expected closing date of the transaction.

The chairman of Bally’s Corporation’s board of directors, Soo Kim, said the combination with Gamesys would “meaningfully accelerate our growth strategy to become a premier, global, omni-channel gaming company.”

Gaming access deal a first

According to an official Bally’s news release, the partnership with Phoenix Mercury is the “first gaming access deal” with a professional women’s sports franchise. The agreement also gives the Providence, Rhode Island-based company market access to its 15th US state.

The deal comes hot on the heels of the casino and gaming company gaining market access to its 14th US state, Kansas, on June 21. While the multi-year partnership with Dodge City’s Boot Hill Casino & Resort gave the Kansas property the keys to Bally’s mobile sportsbook, the state has yet to legalize sports betting. Bally’s also made a significant breakthrough in Iowa on June 29 with the beta launch of its mobile sportsbook, Bally Bet.

The terms of the Mercury deal hand Bally’s official, exclusive sports betting partner rights for “over 15 years beginning July 1.”

Bally’s will manage a digital sports betting service in the state, as well as run a brick-and-mortar sportsbook

According to the news release, the next step for the women’s basketball franchise is to secure a mobile sports betting license from the Arizona Department of Gaming. Once Mercury has this in hand, Bally’s will manage a digital sports betting service in the state, as well as run a brick-and-mortar sportsbook near the Phoenix Suns Arena in the Arizona capital’s downtown area.

Soo Kim said Bally’s was “honored to be a part of such an important milestone in the history of women’s sports.” Highlighting how his organization’s values of diversity, equity, and inclusion dovetail with the Mercury sponsorship, Kim threw down the gauntlet to other businesses, saying Bally’s hopes that “other major corporations follow in our footsteps.”

Advancing women’s sport, expanding digital operations

The CEO and president of Phoenix Mercury, Jason Rowley, described the agreement with Bally’s as an “enormous step forward in the advancement of women’s sports.” He added that the partnership will “deliver fan engagement on an unprecedented scale in women’s sports.”

Reflecting shared values of a different, albeit parallel nature, is Bally’s business combination with Gamesys, which Bally’s acquired in April 2021. Gamesys CEO Lee Fenton said in the June 30 announcement that the new combination signified a “compelling opportunity” to marry Gamesys’ gaming technology with Bally’s US gaming platform.

Fenton said this would create a “vertically integrated” entity prepped to capitalize on the fast-growing US online sports wagering and iGaming market. Fenton concluded with the mutual belief that the business combination would “offer customers a unique and differentiated approach to gaming.”