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The National Hockey League (NHL) has partnered with gaming giant MGM Resorts International. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and MGM CEO Jim Murren announced the formation of a multi-year leaguewide deal in a press conference Monday morning.
As a result of the deal, MGM will now have access to all the NHL’s intellectual property. Part of that access includes the use of the logos and trademarks for all 31 NHL teams.
MGM will also have access to advanced game data that the NHL will provide. According to Bettman, the NHL is working to implement real-time data for next year’s season.
So, MGM is now the official gaming partner for the NHL. In turn, the NHL has designated MGM as its official resort partner.
“This (partnership) is broader than just a sports betting relationship,” said Bettman.
Both Bettman and Murren indicated that the overall success of the Vegas Golden Knights played a role in strengthening the relationship between the two companies. Murren indicated that last season proved MGM could provide a family-friendly environment in the desert.
“Today was a natural extension of that journey,” he said.
Bettman denied that sports betting kiosks would begin appearing in NHL arenas. However, he acknowledged that betting will take place through mobile devices at games in states with mobile wagering.
Both companies are partnering all over the place
The scope of this partnership certainly sets it apart from others. However, both MGM and the NHL have been busy since sports betting became legal in the United States.
As a result, William Hill will have branding at both teams’ home arenas. In the case of the Devils, an entire venue will open featuring the sportsbook’s markings.
Meanwhile, MGM has been the most proactive casino company with regard to deals with sports leagues. In late July 2018, the hospitality giant partnered with the NBA to become its official gaming partner as well.
That deal’s terms essentially boiled down to MGM paying $25 million to receive access to the NBA’s intellectual property for the next three years. Whether this deal with NHL will contain similar terms remains unclear, however – neither Bettman nor Murren volunteered any hard numbers about the partnership.
The deal represents an about-face for Bettman
However, Bettman did receive a question about his history on the other side of sports betting. Bettman, by his own admission, helped to get the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) enacted into law back in 1992.
When asked the reason he changed his mind, he simply cited the demise of PASPA as a sign of the times. He referred to sports betting as a “vehicle for fan engagement.”
“The world has changed,” he said. “The way people consume sports has changed. Sports betting has found a new road and a new life.”
Bettman also denied that the NHL would seek or receive integrity fees from MGM. He indicated that the league and players would benefit financially from the arrangement, but only indirectly.
Of course, the NBA sang the same tune when it announced its deal with MGM. Then, it went right back to the integrity fee chorus in West Virginia.
Only time will tell which direction the NHL will go.