An airplane banner slamming the New York Jets’ recent deal with casino operator MGM Resorts International flew over the team’s home stadium on Sunday ahead of its game against the Buffalo Bills.
The banner read: “SHAME ON JETS/MGM #ENDGUNVIOLENCE #STOPMGM”
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The Jets signed late last month a “first-of-its-kind” integrated gaming partnership with the casino and hospitality giant that, among other things, would see the release of an MGM-sponsored non-gambling mobile game available exclusively in the Official New York Jets App. Under the deal, MGM has been designated as the official gaming partner of the NFL franchise and as such will treat members of the Jets’ rewards program to entertainment experiences and hotel room discounts at its resorts around the nation.
The Jets/MGM was the latest deal penned between an NFL team and a gambling company after the professional football league relaxed its rules regarding such partnerships. Similar deals are now allowed as long as they do not involve promotion of gambling services by franchises. The league and teams are seeking advertising money from the nation’s gambling industry following the mid-May ruling of the US Supreme Court that lifted the long-standing federal ban on sports betting and allowed individual states to legalize the activity if they feel inclined to do so.
The Sunday banner featured the #ENDGUNVIOLENCE hashtag, referring to the October 1, 2017 shooting in Las Vegas that saw a lone gunman open fire into a crowd of concertgoers attending the Route 91 Harvest country music festival. Stephen Paddock unleashed a hail of bullets from his suite on the 32nd floor of MGM’s Mandalay Bay resort, murdering 58 and wounding more than 500 people. His motive has remained a mystery.
In the months after what has been dubbed the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, a number of victims and their families sued MGM over security failures. In July, the casino operator countersued, claiming it had “no liability of any kind” for the attack and for “deaths, injuries, and emotional distress” resulting from Paddock’s actions.
The company filed lawsuits against victims of the shooting in several states, including Nevada and California, seeking to shift liability from itself and the security company that was hired to guard the music festival. MGM claimed that it was protected from liability under the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act of 2002.
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In its lawsuits, the casino giant explained that security during the Route 91 Harvest festival was provided by Contemporary Services Corporation, a company certified by the US Department of Homeland Security. Under the SAFETY Act, companies certified by the department to guard against and to respond to acts of mass destruction and injury are protected from liability. The Act was passed in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
MGM’s move to sue victims of the Las Vegas shooting was heavily criticized. The company sought to centralize all lawsuits it had filed, but a San Francisco court denied the motion last month. MGM said that it would respect the court’s ruling and would instead pursue legal action against the victims in the courts it had previously filed its lawsuits.
It further added that its actions only aimed to avoid lengthy and costly litigation and that it was not seeking any form of compensation from those affected by the Route 91 Harvest attack.
According to the latest round of news on the matter, the company and the sued victims have entered into mediation and have stayed pending litigation while attempting to reach a settlement.
While the Jets refused to comment on the Sunday banner, MGM said in a statement to the Associated Press that they “wholeheartedly agree that our country needs to put an end to gun violence.” However, the casino company did not provide any comments regarding the wave of criticism toward its tie-up with the Jets.
New York Politicians Take to Twitter to Slam the Deal
The Jets/MGM partnership was heavily criticized by a number of New York politicians, among others. New York State Sen. Kevin Parker from Brooklyn recently tweeted:
I strongly disagree with @nyjets partnering with @MGMResortsIntl. The @MGMResortsIntl decision to sue the victims of the Mandalay Bay Shooting in Las Vegas is a complete disgrace! The @nyjets SHOULD NOT move forward #STOPMGMhttps://t.co/wKU8KC9sjm
— Senator Kevin Parker (@SenatorParker) November 8, 2018
Newly elected Sen. Jessica Ramos said on her Twitter page that:
New York’s about people and gun control is about keeping people alive. @MGMResortsIntl is unconscionably suing shooting victims and just doesn’t get it, so they’re not welcomed here. #StopMGM https://t.co/fPvoYX6mBV
— Jessica Ramos (@jessicaramos) November 10, 2018
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