NHL to reveal first sports betting partner

29 October 2018

The NHL is set to go “all in” with sports betting when it announces a major partnership at a press conference led by commissioner Gary Bettman later today.

A long-standing opponent of sports betting and fierce defender of PASPA until its repeal earlier this year, the ice hockey league will give further details about a significant commercial deal at an event taking place in New York City at 11am ET (4pm GMT).

According to sources cited by Sportnet’s Chris Johnson, the NHL – which will follow the NBA in signing a betting partner - intends to reap as much as possible from the legal gambling industry. "We're going all in," an insider told Johnson.

The NHL has kept tight-lipped about the identity of its new partner. William Hill is a contender having already signed up two hockey teams – New Jersey Devils and Vegas Golden Knights – to deals. DraftKings became the NHL’s official fantasy partner in 2014 and is part-owned by the league.

Bettman and the NHL were part of a group that attempted to stop New Jersey legalising sports betting. Since the repeal of PASPA he has been an advocate of integrity fees and ensuring the league takes as much money as possible from what is sure to be a lucrative new sector in US sport.

“We’ve historically been opposed to extending sports betting on our game, and emotionally I don’t think that’s changed,” Bettman said to podcast host Larry Lage in August. “It is a fact of life in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling, and it’ll be up to states to decide whether or not they’re going to enact sports betting.

The deal to be announced today comes almost three months after the NBA became the first major US sport to sign up an official betting partner through its deal with MGM and its playMGM brand. As part of the deal, MGM will use official NBA data on its betting platform and work with the league to detect and prevent fraud and game-fixing. MGM will also have the right to use NBA marks and team logos. It is believed the three-year deal is worth around $25m.

At the beginning of October, the American Gaming Association (AGA) released figures that showed the NHL could benefit by more than $200m (€175m/£155m) per year should it fully embrace sports betting in the US.

Image: NNC Public Affairs Photography