The Baltimore Ravens are the latest sports franchise to embrace the growing popularity of esports among its fan base.
Last week, the Ravens announced a multi-year partnership to make Esports Entertainment Group, an esports entertainment and online gambling operator, the team’s official esports tournament provider. As part of the deal, the company will host biannual tournaments using its Esports Gaming League (EGL) platform.
“The growing popularity of esports provides a great opportunity for our team to create deeper connections and engagement with our fans,” Kevin Rochlitz, chief sales officer for the Ravens, said in a statement.
The Philadelphia Eagles announced a similar partnership with Esports Entertainment in December 2020, making them the first NFL team to sign on with an esports tournament provider. Esports Entertainment also has similar deals in place with MLS and NHL franchises.
Financial terms of the deal between the Ravens and Esports Entertainment were not disclosed.
Advancing esports in the Baltimore market
The Esports Gaming League platform enables live and online events and tournaments where gamers can compete in a wide range of esport contests and video games. The platform includes services such as full turnkey esports events, live broadcast production, branded tournaments, and game launches.
Esports Entertainment also operates an online sportsbook and offers fixed odds wagering, fantasy contests, and pools on various esports and gaming events.
The partnership with the Ravens will allow Esports Entertainment to leverage images of Ravens players within the Baltimore market to promote their events. It also allows for Ravens players to create custom videos promoting the tournaments in team marketing efforts.
“Our esports tournament platform continues to gain strong traction among top-tier professional sports franchises. We are delighted to add the Ravens as our latest partner,” said Grant Johnson, CEO of Esports Entertainment.
“Our robust tournament platform will help the Ravens strengthen connections with their fans while providing new avenues for engagement.”
Ravens extend list of gaming-related partners
This isn’t the first time the Ravens have teamed up with a gaming partner. In fact, they’re among some of the most active professional sports teams in enhancing their presence in the gaming markets.
In 2018, the Ravens landed a marketing deal with Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, located just a few blocks from M&T Bank Stadium. Under the deal, the casino can use team trademarks and logos in its promotional material.
At the time, it was the second-ever partnership between an NFL team and a casino, although the first with a Caesars Entertainment casino.
Maryland nears launch of sports betting
This latest partnership precedes the launch of legalized sports betting in Maryland, which is expected later this year.
In November, Maryland voters approved legalized sports betting. Now, lawmakers are crafting regulations on how, when and where to implement sports betting throughout the state.
An initial proposal calls for sports betting at a variety of locations in the state:
- Six casinos
- Three racetrack properties
- M&T Bank Stadium
- FedEx Field
- Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Smaller properties, such as restaurants and bars, might also be included in the industry.
As proposed, the initial legislation does allow for wagering on esports. This is somewhat unique as not every state to legalize sports betting thus far has allowed bets on esports contests.