Could Betway Big Pick Provide Cleveland Cavaliers An Open Lane To Ohio Sports Betting?

Written By Derek Helling on April 6, 2021 - Last Updated on July 19, 2022

The Cleveland Cavaliers may not lead the NBA in any major on-court statistical categories, but they are setting the pace for the league in partnering with a gambling company.

Betway Big Pick, a free-to-play game for Cavs fans, is part of the franchise’s newest such collaboration.

It’s remarkable that Ohio’s only NBA team has a presence in this space given the fact that online gambling remains illegal in the state. It speaks to how active Cleveland could be if that changes.

Details of the Cavs’ new gambling sponsorship

Betway, an online gaming company based in Malta, will in many ways just be another corporate sponsor for the Cavs. Spectators will soon start seeing the Betway logo around Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. That includes space on the court itself.

Additionally, Cleveland supporters will also behold the brand on the Cavs’ social media channels and website. The company is now the presenting sponsor of CavsHQ, a program on Bally’s Sports Ohio.

As far as what makes this deal unique, there are two components. First, Betway is now a supporter of Cleveland’s wheelchair basketball team, also called the Cavaliers. Secondly, Betway Big Pick is a branded free-to-play game on the Cavs’ digital properties. Included among the prizes for playing are weekly cash prizes.

This isn’t the first time Cleveland has integrated a pool game into its products. A revamp of the team’s mobile app earlier this year included a free-to-play pick ’em game. The franchise has just now found a sponsor for the game. It’s fitting – and interesting – that selection ended up being a gambling company.

It’s also a potential foreshadowing of more to come.

Could Cavaliers end up in cahoots with sportsbooks?

Right now, the potential framework of legal sports betting in Ohio is very much in doubt. Several interested parties, like the Cincinnati Reds, have chimed in. The Reds have argued they don’t just want to be able to hook up with gambling companies as sponsors, but ultimately operate sportsbooks themselves.

Other potential destinations for Ohio sports bettors under at least one of the multiple existing proposals could include bars, bowling alleys, casinos, racetracks and restaurants. Lottery terminals might also feature a sports betting option.

Of course, the internet and mobile apps would be in that mix, as well. The inclusion of mobile wagering seems to be among the few points all the stakeholders agree on. The disagreement begins with how many of those to allow. Other points of differentiation include tax rates and whether to allow betting on collegiate events.

Gov. Mike DeWine is bullish on the inevitability of some legal system. There are a few possibilities that would be relevant for the Cavs. One, as the Reds desire, is the Cavaliers becoming eligible for a sports betting master license. That could enable the franchise to not only open a retail book at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse but also divvy out online skins.

In that scenario, Betway would have an inside track to one of those skins as well as perhaps running the brick-and-mortar book. That might be the end goal that both parties in this deal have in mind right now.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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