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Nets trying to get in on the ‘action’ as New York State opens bidding for sports books

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NBA Draft 2017 Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Mike Mazzeo, writing for PlayNY.com, reports that the Nets, along with the Yankees, are “aligning” themselves with some of the country’s biggest gambling operators as New York State begins the process of opening the state to sports betting.

Mazzeo reports...

The Brooklyn Nets are supporting the New York mobile sports betting bid by Fanatics and Penn National Gaming, sources tell PlayNY... (Penn National Gaming is the parent company of Barstool Sports.)

The New York Yankees, Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres and NYCFC aligned themselves with a superbid from massive sports betting operators DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM, among others.

The two groups are among six bidders for two operating licenses to run sports betting in the state. New York legalized sports betting earlier this year and on Monday received bids to operate under that law.

While the Nets —and Yankees — are not part of the bids, they are working with groups and presumably will derive benefits should their respective groups win. The benefits could include a sports book at or near the teams’ venues, Barclays Center for the Nets, Yankee Stadium for the Yanks or perhaps kiosks scattered around the venues.

The Nets have long been interested in bringing sports betting to the arena. Back in February, Norman Oder of the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park reported that Brooklyn Events Center, the arena operating company, has been putting its money down on the issue, lobbying both the state and city officials.

Oder did a search of state and city lobbying records and found that Brooklyn Events Center was paying lobbyists $7,500 a month to push sports betting legislation at the state and city level. Oder reported as well that “Madison Square Garden is also lobbying on ‘gaming,’ as well as other issues.” (MSG, which owns the Knicks and Rangers, has apparently not aligned itself with any of the bidders.)

And as far back as Joe Tsai’s purchase of the Nets in late 2019, there have been reports of interest in adding gambling to the arena experience. David Levy, then CEO of the Nets and Barclays, suggested the possibility that fans might be able to bet from their seats using an internal 5G connection. The Nets have also trademarked the terms, “Bet on Brooklyn” and “Brooklyn Gaming” in recent years.

Barclays Center ownership and manager have multiple ties to Fanatics, which wants to create a one-stop digital platform for everything sports from apparel to NFTs to gambling. Earlier Tuesday, it was reported that the company had secured a $325 million to expand into new sectors “within its parent umbrella.” It’s now valued at $18 billion, sources told CNBC’s Jabari Young who broke the story. Among the new investors: Jay-Z who had small pieces of the Nets and Barclays Center, and Roc Nation, his holding company that’s now run by former Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark.

Moreover, Michael Rubin, Fanatics CEO and minority owner of the 76ers, is personally close to Joe and Clara Wu Tsai. Rubin and Clara Wu Tsai are among the founding partners of the REFORM Alliance, the Meek Mill-inspired group trying to reform the nation’s criminal justice system, particularly parole and probation. Jay-Z is also a founding partner.

The initial bidding is, of course, just the first step in a long process. The state is expected to name two winners before the end of 2021.