The National League of Hockey has certainly come a long way with their stance on sports betting. The NHL once fiercely opposed any gambling, but have recently recognized the popularity of sports betting and the opportunity it can provide. Now they’re partnering with William Hill US, the 3rd sportsbook they’ve connected with in less than a year.
The NHL’s commissioner, Gary Bettman, has taken quite a turn in opinion when it comes to betting on hockey games. A year ago you wouldn’t have seen anything officially trademarked by the NHL on sports betting sites, but now they’ve got three partnerships with major betting sportsbooks. First they signed with MGM Resorts, then they signed with FanDuel, and now they’re inking a deal with William Hill US.
For those unfamiliar with sports betting and the NHL, Bettman wasn’t interested in entertaining anything related to sports betting until late 2018. He believed that sports betting created an atmosphere that didn’t match what the NHL wanted to create at their games.
After the Supreme Court struck down the federal law banning sports betting, the NHL’s stance on sports betting flipped. They now understand that with the Supreme Court decision, sports betting is the future, and it’s a program they’ve got to get with. There is plenty of opportunity for growth within gambling, and to not try and extend through it would be a waste for hockey.
Sports Betting Benefits Hockey
The main reason why commissioner Gary Bettman decided to change his stance on the matter is because he recognized that sports betting could be beneficial for hockey. Gambling is another way of generating interest in the sport, as having a bet on a live game increases the engagement and involvement in the game. It adds another element of intrigue and excitement for the viewer, something that could certainly benefit the sport of hockey.
Bettman understood that hockey in particular could benefit from greater exposure with sports betting. With things like penalty shots and power plays, hockey offers the ability for a variety of prop bets. Prop bets aren’t concerned with who wins or loses, but rather with what happens in a specific aspect. For example, a prop bet could be created to see whether or not a team would score on a power play.
Now that the NHL has ramped up their presence on sportsbooks, you can expect to see many more offers and deals related to hockey games. The NHL wishes to expand their presence and increase engagement and viewership. Gambling is an excellent way for their existing fans to have an extra reason to keep watching, and an even better way of capturing people who haven’t watched hockey before. Look for the NHL to make more moves towards supporting sports betting in the future.