William Hill US seals major league first

19 September 2018

The Vegas Golden Knights NHL ice hockey franchise has become the first team from the four established major leagues to secure a partnership with a sportsbook operator by sealing a “multi-year” deal with William Hill US.

Under the agreement, William Hill and the team, which is preparing to start its second NHL season on October 4 after entering the league as an expansion franchise last year, will exploit cross-promotional opportunities across various platforms.

William Hill’s brand will be advertised on the dasher board of the team’s T-Mobile Arena, as well as the videoboard above the rink during breaks in the play, starting with the Knights’ pre-season clash with the Colorado Avalanche this coming Monday. The two parties will also work together to host fan viewings for away games.

Neither the length nor the financial value of the deal was disclosed.

“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,” Knights president Kerry Bubolz said.

William Hill US chief executive Joseph Asher said in June that the company had been “inundated” with approaches from major US sports teams about sponsorship deals since the US Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May.

Last month, the NBA basketball league entered into a landmark partnership with MGM Resorts International, while earlier this month the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys franchise set a league first by linking up with WinStar World Casino.

The NFL relaxed regulations on franchises signing commercial partnerships with casinos ahead of the start of the 2018-19 season two weeks ago, but the league still prohibits teams from promoting sportsbooks.

In the NHL, New Jersey Devils president Hugh Weber told Bloomberg TV this week that the team expects to generate commercial revenues of up to $5m per year through gambling-related partnerships, taking advantage of the state’s expanding sports betting market, which generated wagers totalling $95.6m in August alone.

“Being the only (NHL) team in New Jersey gives us a huge advantage,” he said. “We see sports betting as additive to the experience for our fans. There’s a lot on the horizon.”

Image credit: Michael Miller