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Sixers partner with Caesars Entertainment to become first Philadelphia team to sign deal with a casino

The Sixers are jumping in bed with Caesars Entertainment in a deal that will give the casino company a presence at home games.

The Sixers and owner Josh Harris formed a partnership with the casino group Caesars Entertainment, a deal that not too long ago would have been unthinkable.
The Sixers and owner Josh Harris formed a partnership with the casino group Caesars Entertainment, a deal that not too long ago would have been unthinkable.Read moreTim Tai / Staff photographer

In the 20th century, leagues and teams in the United States looked at sports betting and saw the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal.

In the 21st century, they are starting to see dollar signs.

It was announced on Tuesday that the Sixers would become the first Philadelphia sports team to enter into a marketing deal with a casino. Caesars entertainment will partner with the parent company of the Sixers, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment.

The New Jersey Devils also are part of the agreement. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"This will help get our product closer to more guests," said Michael Marino, vice president of marketing for Caesars. "With the Devils, we're in North Jersey. With the Sixers, we're in Philadelphia and Central [and South] Jersey. There are a lot of layers and we're really excited about this."

On Monday, the NHL announced a sports betting deal with MGM, a competitor of Caesars.

The Sixers' deal doesn't mean sports betting windows are coming to the Wells Fargo Center, but there will be signage and other Caesars' presence during home games. Caesars runs two sportsbooks in Atlantic City and is hoping to open a sportsbook at Harrah's in Chester by mid-January. They are expected to receive license approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on Wednesday.

Sixers owner Josh Harris, the co-founder of Harris Blitzer, also owns the Devils, who recently partnered with the William Hill sportsbook company to open a lounge in the Prudential Center. There will not be a similar lounge at the Wells Fargo Center, which the Sixers lease.

The key to all of this for the Sixers and Caesars is when sports betting becomes available on mobile devices. Walk into the WFC, put money on how many points Joel Embiid will score and sit back and sweat it out for two hours.

Mobile sports betting likely won't be available in Pennsylvania until after the first of the year.

Sounds like a long time, but given that the Supreme Court overturned the nationwide ban on sports betting in May, things actually are moving quite rapidly. To borrow a line from the English rock band Pink Floyd, this deal is just another brick in the wall.

Said Adam Davis, chief revenue officer for Harris Blitzer, "I think we're just catching up to what was taking place in Europe for some time now."