NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA and the New Jersey Devils of the NHL have become the first major U.S.-based professional teams to sign a sponsorship deal with an online gambling company.
Scott O'Neil, the chief executive of the Josh Harris-owned teams, and Norbert Teufelberger, the chief executive of bwin.party digital entertainment that operates partypoker, confirmed the multiyear agreement in a statement Wednesday night.
A news conference was scheduled for Thursday at the Prudential Center to formally announce the deal.
Bloomberg was first to report the deal.
New Jersey authorized Internet gambling last year to give a boost to Atlantic City's struggling casino industry, which has been beset by increasing competition for the past seven years. It began with a five-day trial period on Nov. 21 and launched publicly on Nov. 25.
As of Monday, 148,487 accounts had been created, though the state's Gaming Enforcement Division notes that individuals often create separate accounts on more than one site.
"We are proud to welcome partypoker to our family as we embark on an exciting journey with an innovative, global leader in the digital marketplace," O'Neil said. "As an organization, we will continue to align with brands that aspire to grow with us, in true partnership."
Teufelberger said his company was excited to offer Devils and Sixers' fans great digital content and unique game-day experiences.
"They are two of the most iconic names in American hockey and basketball with huge and loyal fan bases throughout New Jersey and the surrounding metropolitan areas," Teufelberger said. "There is an affinity between playing in online poker tournaments and sports - winning is about having intense focus, stamina and a great competitive spirit."
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