NHL Adds William Hill as League’s Third Official Sports Betting Partner
Posted on: March 29, 2019, 10:00h.
Last updated on: March 29, 2019, 07:33h.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman may have once been a skeptic when it comes to sports betting, but those days are long past, as the league entered into a multiyear partnership with William Hill on Thursday.
The deal will make William Hill an official sports betting partner of the NHL, the third such agreement made by the league since October.
William Hill Has Deals With Golden Knights, Devils
William Hill joins MGM Resorts and FanDuel as sports betting partners of the league.
While specific terms of the agreement weren’t announced, the partnership will give William Hill promotional opportunities in NHL markets where sports betting has been legalized, as well as at league events throughout the year. The bookmaker already has a strong relationship with professional hockey thanks to previous deals with the Vegas Golden Knights and New Jersey Devils.
The agreement also keeps the NHL at the forefront of the relationship between gaming firms and sports leagues, something Bettman emphasized in a press release announcing the agreement.
“This new partnership is yet another example of the innovative yet practical approach our league is taking with the emerging sports betting industry,” Bettman said. “Partnering with William Hill US, a leader in both the sportsbook and mobile betting marketplace, provides a tremendous opportunity to further fan engagement.”
Bettman Sees the Sports Betting Light
While those comments may honestly reflect Bettman’s current feelings – and based on the direction the NHL has taken over the past few months, there’s no reason to doubt his sincerity – they also represent a complete turnaround from comments he made years earlier.
In 2012, when the NHL and other major sports leagues tried to stop New Jersey from legalizing sports betting, Bettman gave a different opinion during a deposition, saying that sports betting could ruin the atmosphere at NHL games.
“I think that when somebody loses a bet, they tend to sometimes confuse their motives in rooting and enjoying the game because if you lose your bet, even though the team you’re rooting for wins, you have a potentially conflicted outcome,” Bettman said at the time.
Those comments became a talking point again on Thursday, when Bettman took part in the American Gaming Association’s Sports Betting Executive Summit at the MGM National Harbor casino in Maryland.
“Times have changed,” Bettman told conference attendees, according to the Chicago Tribune. “Once the Supreme Court ruled, we got to get with the program. And frankly, as a practical matter, I owed it to our fans, I owed it to our clubs, to embrace the evolving world, whether it’s sports betting or changes in technology. In this day and age, you either evolve or become extinct.”
William Hill is also doing its best to evolve to a changing gambling landscape. In its case, the company is attempting to become a major player in the US sports betting market to make up for challenges in its home territory of the UK, where a coming cut in the maximum bet on fixed odds betting terminals is expected to severely cut into the company’s profits.