Not even half-way into another week and already we’ve witnessed the completion of another landmark alliance between a big player in the gaming sector and a major name in sport. The National Hockey League hooked up with MGM Resorts in a deal that was long on media attention but somewhat shorter in terms of usable detail. How much it’s worth for example remains unclear – what we do know is that it’s for a ‘multi-year’ period. More than one year then!
It was also made abundantly clear that this will be a branding and licensing arrangement, so there will be no cut from the betting take going to the NHL. Essentially, MGM is paying for the integrity of the data provided by the NHL which leads us neatly to the topic of how this deal might affect betting on hockey.
What we can realistically expect is enhanced player tracking data that can be used by MGM to generate wagering opportunities for live, in-game betting. NHL executive vice president and chief revenue officer Keith Wachtel told the Associated Press that being able to provide enhanced data and analytics to MGM will allow “some creative and unique things that don’t really exist in the sport right now.”
He explained: “The more data and analytics that a gaming operator can have, the better it will be in enabling them to set odds. Whether or not they’re using the data for actual purposes of creating prop bets and things like that certainly is something (that’s possible). But more importantly, they’re going to use it to be able to set odds and proper odds that they’re going to be able to create.”
Looking more broadly at the NHL/MGM deal, it also supports gaming industry arguments in favor of securing commercial deals to drive revenue for the leagues rather than forcing an integrity fee onto the statute book. That was clearly the stance adopted by the AGA in its official response to the news.
The association’s Sara Slane noted: “Sports betting agreements through contracts enhance the fan and consumer experience. The NHL’s announcement 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.”
What’s interesting in all of this, of course, is the newfound chemistry that seems to be attracting sport to a sector of business that was hitherto seen as its nemesis. With the ink barely dry on the NHL deal, news broke of a multi-year partnership between Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE) and Caesars – and more will follow. Increasingly, it would appear, both sides are beginning to swap the Mexican standoff for a trip down the tunnel of love! Now that’s a volte face not many would have predicted when PASPA was in its pomp.