NHL Teams Cashing in on Partnerships with Casinos and Sportsbooks
Despite the NHL being traditionally against the legalization of sports betting, the Las Vegas Golden Knights just announced a groundbreaking partnership with William Hill sportsbook. Not to be outdone, the New Jersey Devils are aggressively pursuing partnerships with local sportsbooks and casinos. Industry insiders are speculating that the team could make at least $5 million dollars in these deals.
NJ Devil’s Deal
Through deals with local casinos and sports books, the Newark-based hockey team will bring in different amounts from different operators under different sponsorship deals. The Devils will benefit hugely by being the only NHL team in the state, and in being in only one of five states with legal sports betting, four of which only started to offer legal sports gambling since the federal ban on sports betting was overturned in May.
Team President, Hugh Weber, discussed this opportunity in an interview with Bloomberg TV: “Being the only (NHL) team in New Jersey gives us a huge advantage.” He also said that he believes that being able to bet on sports will be “additive to the experience for our fans.” In other words, Weber feels that legal sports betting will give his team an advantage over other teams when it comes to fan enjoyment and engagement.
The Vegas Golden Knights
On Tuesday, the Vegas Golden Knights announced a partnership with William Hill, the first such deal arranged between the NHL and a sportsbook operator. Details of the deal include in-arena signs, a TV visible dashboard, and up-to-date league-wide odds that will show on the in-arena Knight Tron during intermission and other breaks in play.
Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill US, made the following comments about this partnership, according to NHL.com:
“We could not be more excited to partner with the Golden Knights. We are headquartered in Las Vegas and have seen first-hand what this team has done for our community. William Hill is the leader in the U.S. sports betting market and we are proud of the fact that this is the first sponsorship agreement between a sports book and an NHL team in the country.”
Vegas Golden Knights President Kerry Bubolz said of the partnership:
“We are always looking for innovative ways to engage different segments [of] our fan base and provide a unique fan experience. Like the Vegas Golden Knights, William Hill US is a proud ‘Vegas Born’ organization. This partnership between a major professional team and a sports book operator is a historic, landmark agreement and we are delighted to be leading the way with William Hill in this space.”
As of right now, William Hill US has 108 race and sports books in Nevada alone, and also carries the reputation of being Nevada’s number-one sports betting app.
The Vegas Golden Knights’ first game of the regular season will be Thursday, October 4th at T-Mobile Arena against the Philadelphia Flyers.
NHL Wasn’t the First to Make Deals
Despite the excitement over this deal between Vegas Golden Knights and William Hill, the NHL wasn’t the first pro sports league to make deals with casinos. On August 9th, the NBA announced a partnership with MGM Resorts to be the official gaming partner of the league and the WNBA.
Jim Murren, CEO of MGM, made the following comments about this deal, according to ESPN:
“The foremost mission is to maintain and preserve the integrity of the game, the fan experience for the NBA fans, [and] in fact help catapult further the global presence of the NBA,”
NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, believes that this partnership will not only provide an unmatched experience for NBA fans, but it will also give William Hill a huge advantage over its competition.
Dallas Cowboys Partner with WinStar
Less than a month after the NBA announced their deal, on September 7th, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones signed an official partnership with WinStar World Casino and Resort, which is on I-35 close to the border of Oklahoma and Texas. Jones made the following comments about the deal, according to Reuters:
“The Dallas Cowboys take great pride in aligning themselves with the best brands in the world. It is a privilege to stand shoulder to shoulder as partners with such a prominent entertainment brand like WinStar World Casino. We are excited about the future of gaming as it relates to the NFL.”
The WinStar World Casino is over 600,000 square feet of gaming and entertainment with roughly 100 tables and over 7,400 games in total. It also offers off-track betting, bingo, and much more, and is owned and operated by the Chickasaw Nation.
Final Thoughts on the NHL’s New Stance
When the state of NJ tried to legalize sports gambling in 2012, the NCAA, MLB, NFL, NBA, and the NHL all sued the Garden State. This lawsuit led to New Jersey’s aggressive legal battle, which eventually made its way to the Supreme Court and the decision to overturn PASPA was made.
Even after SCOTUS overturned PASPA, the NHL and other leagues still publicly opposed the ruling and started pushing for “integrity fees.” With so much opposition from state legislators, casinos and gaming commissions, the “integrity fee” approach has been trampled on and discarded. This has become obvious with the NHL as their allowing teams to partner with casinos and sportsbooks.
I love the idea of teams making these partnerships as it will definitely improve the overall fan engagement and enjoyment. Furthermore, it will improve the sports betting experience in and out of the hockey arena. It’s exciting to see what dominoes will fall next. Will the NFL allow more teams to take this partnership approach? Will MLB follow the NBA and NHL on partnering with casinos and sportsbooks?
For more analysis on this this topic, check out our latest videocast episode of Odds on Favorites.
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