The NHL’s 180° on the virtues of sports betting is causing whiplash among people who for two decades saw NHL commissioner Gary Bettman shout about the dangers of legal sports betting and its potential to ruin sports.
Following a flurry of recent NHL announcements including deals with MGM Resorts International to become an official sports betting partner, and a partnership with FanDuel to become the “exclusive official daily fantasy partner and an official sports betting partner of the NHL” — Los Angeles Kings president Luc Robitaille on Wednesday said that gambling revenue derived from such deals and other channels could actually lower ticket prices or at least prevent them from rising at the same rate.
Robitaille made the remarks during an appearance on ESPN’s On Ice podcast with Greg Wyshanski and Emily Kaplan on Wednesday, saying in part: “I’m not going to guarantee it’s going to bring down ticket prices, but it might hold the raise a little bit. If a team plans on raising ticket prices by 8 percent, they might only raise them by 5 or 4 percent. If there’s a lot more money at the table, it makes everybody’s life easier.”
We’ll put the likelihood of a reduction of prices and/or slowing of their incremental increases at 25-1. Let’s now explore the reason for that line a bit deeper.
FanDuel in its newly minted partnership with the National Hockey League (NHL) has additionally refocused attention on what was its core business as it continues its efforts to establish itself in emerging Nevada-style sports betting marketplaces.
On Monday, the number two DFS company announced a multi-year partnership with the NHL, making FanDuel the “exclusive official daily fantasy partner and an official sports betting partner of the NHL.” The new deal also allows FanDuel customers to gain access to what it calls “special prizing,” such as VIP experiences to NHL major events including its All-Star Game and Winter Classic outdoor hockey game.
National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman on Monday announced that the league struck a multi-year sponsorship agreement with MGM Resorts International (MGM), making the gaming and entertainment giant an official sports betting partner of the NHL. This follows a similar announcement by the National Basketball Association in July, where the NBA presented MGM as the NBA’s official gaming partner.
The NHL deal, aside from designating MGM as an official partner, will allow MGM use of the NHL’s trademarks in connection with sports wagering at its properties internationally, as well as access to “official league data” including advanced data — some of which is still getting hammered out in the lab.
“The data we’re in the process of inventing is a process that’s been ongoing,” Bettman said. “It wasn’t our vision to develop it for sports betting, but as a broadcast enhancement to bring fans closer to the game.”
Sportnet’s Chris Johnston, a Toronto-based hockey insider for the NHL Network and a senior hockey writer for Sportnet, a Canadian equivalent of ESPN, said via Twitter, “The NHL has decided to dive head-first into the sports betting business. Official partnership(s) to be announced at a Monday morning press conference in New York. Word I’m hearing is “we’re going all in.”
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman sent out a media advisory Friday alerting news outlets that he’ll speak at a Monday news conference in New York City.
No Further Information Yet Released on NHL’s Sports Betting Move, But Bettman’s Presence Appears to Guarantee Some Importance to the News Conference.
In July the NBA and commissioner Adam Silver announced at a news conference in New York a 3-year, $25 million marketing and data deal with MGM Resorts International. The non-exclusive arrangement largely focuses on marketing, but does grant MGM access to the league’s official data feed.