MGM Opens Wallet, NHL Commissioner Changes His Position On Sports Betting
MGM Resorts International is becoming the National Hockey League’s official sports betting partner. The NHL follows the National Basketball League in signing such as deal, with the NBA also brokering a relationship with MGM in August.
The NHL and MGM have a deal that will last for multiple years and is non-exclusive. It provides MGM with promotion on the NHL’s platforms and at league events, but more importantly opens the NHL’s database of fans to MGM so that it can market its products, including but not limited to its sportsbook, directly to the consumer.
The league not only receives an unidentified amount of money for the above consideration, but also support for its claim that it has valuable data that sports betting operators should pay for. MGM will be using the NHL’s official data, including proprietary player tracking data, in connection with its sports betting offerings.
While other sports leagues still appear to be set on receiving a fee from sports betting operators to help fund the cost to maintain the integrity of their games, the NHL is taking a very different approach that pushes integrity concerns aside and focuses primarily on what it believes to be an intellectual property right.
“I’m not sure I buy the term ‘integrity fee’ — I don’t worry about the integrity of our players,” says NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “I think, though, if you’re going to allocate for yourself to run a business on our intellectual property and the performance of our athletes and the platform that we put on for our games, we’re entitled to be involved in that.”
Bettman has made a quick change in his stance on associating his league with sports betting, claiming that “The Supreme Court,” through its decision to strike down the federal ban on sports betting, caused him to re-think his position. This is the same person who once signed a declaration claiming that “New Jersey’s contemplated sports betting scheme threatens serious and irreparable harm to the NHL, harm that cannot be remedied or compensated for by any amount of monetary damages.”
The deal between the NHL and MGM Resorts is announced mere days following an agreement between the New Jersey Devils and sportsbook operator William Hill. That deal caused William Hill to become a sponsor of the team and includes William Hill branding on a lounge with odds boards that display betting options across all sports.
“Sports betting agreements through contracts enhance the fan and consumer experience,” says American Gaming Association vice president of public affairs Sara Slane. “The NHL’s announcement today further strengthens the bond between sports entities and gaming companies, who are each committed to preserving the integrity of the game. As legal sports betting expands, we are encouraged by the growing relationship between gaming companies and the major sports leagues.”
It is possible that NHL arenas include betting kiosks in the future, but not without the arena having a betting license.