The NFL has joined with DraftKings as its provider for daily fantasy sports, moving the league closer to a full embrace of legal sports betting.

DraftKings began as a fantasy sports platform but now operates as a full-service sportsbook. The deal announced Thursday makes DraftKings the NFL's "official daily fantasy partner."

The league has joined with Caesars Palace for sports betting marketing, its first deal with a traditional casino company. But the NFL remains the only major North American sports league not to designate a full-fledged sports betting partner.

The NFL hasn't closed off the possibility of such a deal and the partnership with DraftKings potentially gives the Boston-based firm an advantage.

"The focus is to make sure that we're protecting the consumer and the integrity of the game," said Renie Anderson, chief revenue officer and executive vice president of NFL partnerships. "We're going to take our time, when we feel it's ready and right to go into that space, that we've dotted all the I's and crossed all the T's."

In daily fantasy, fans wager on the performance of individual players, rather than the outcome of the game. While regarded by many as a form of gambling, it is regulated differently than betting on the outcome of games, which is now legal in a dozen states.

"This is a defining moment in the industry, and we are thrilled to become the first daily fantasy sports partner to enter into a formal relationship with the NFL," DraftKings CEP Jason Robins said in a statement. "Throughout our discussions with the league, it was evident we share a common vision around the future of fan engagement."

The deal allows DraftKings to use NFL logos, official statistics, highlights and other content on its platforms.

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