NHL Capitulates to Sports Betting Deal

A new multiyear agreement was signed between yet another sports league and a gambling entity, as the two industries continue to merge in a whirlwind of new deals and partnerships. This time around, it was the National Hockey League that could not resist the temptation of entering into an agreement with MGM Resorts, following the NBA’s lead. This is the NHL’s first official sports betting partnership. The NHL will provide MGM Resorts with data for use in sports betting and give the gambling giant access to its proprietary data.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a joint press conference: “The new sports betting landscape presents a unique opportunity for fan engagement utilizing technology and data that are exclusive to our league. Fan engagement, technological advancement and innovation are paramount to our progressive approach and will be at the forefront of everything we do.”

The chief revenue officer of NHL, Keith Wachtel said that by providing enhanced data and analytics to MGM resorts, it would allow for “some creative and unique things that don’t really exist in the sport right now.”

According to Wachtel, the more data and analytics that a gambling operator has in its possession, the better it will be at setting odds.

“They’re going to use it to be able to set odds and proper odds that they’re going to be able to create,” he added.

Although several leagues such as the MLB and the NBA have tried to get gambling operators and states to pay an ‘integrity fee’, the NHL will not receive a cut of the gambling profits under the terms of the new partnership deal with MGM.  The leagues want states to give them a cut of the money that is bet on their games to pay for what they say is extra monitoring of suspicious betting.  No league has been successful up until now in getting states to agree to this integrity fee.

Wachtel said that the NHL has no concerns about the integrity of its games, players or officials, and there was never an issue in the past.  He added that the integrity of the sports betting landscape in the US was just as important to bookmakers, “which is why… we don’t talk about this notion of integrity fees.”

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