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The Las Vegas Golden Knights and London-based sportsbook William Hill US have joined forces in a first-of-its-kind sponsorship agreement.
Golden Knights President Kerry Bubolz spoke of the multi-year deal in a press release:
“This partnership between a major professional team and a sports book operator is a historic, landmark agreement, and we are delighted to be leading the way with William Hill in this space.”
VGK and William Hill: A match made on ice
The Knights and William Hill agreement is the first between an NHL team and a sportsbook.
William Hill will be visible at all Golden Knights’ home games with signage in the arena and odds for NHL games displayed during intermission on the Knight Tron. When the Knights are away, there will be away-game watch parties.
“We are proud of the fact that this is the first sponsorship agreement between a sportsbook and an NHL team in the country,” William Hill US CEO, Joe Asher said in Tuesday’s statement.
One of the best uses of the William Hill branding will come during the William Hill Line Change. When the Golden Knights make a line change during the game, William Hill Line Change will flash on the LED ribbon board.
In a statement to the Sports Business Journal, Asher spoke of his vision for this agreement.
“We hope people will be sitting at T-Mobile and betting between periods. Frankly, we know they do that already. We’re hoping to be able to get more people to our site because the brand will be right there in front of them.”
While there is no mention of in-arena betting kiosks yet, it is not entirely out of the realm of possibility. Golden Knights fans can, however, bet “between periods” through several legal sports betting apps in Nevada.
“We have a really unique marketplace because of all the gaming companies located here, so from day one this category has been one of our key targets,” said Bubolz. “Even though we couldn’t promote the sportsbook component with our gaming partners, we were fortunate to be able to develop significant relationships that … helped us learn how they view the (sportsbook) space and what’s important to them.”
William Hill skates around the US sports betting scene
The post-PASPA sports betting industry has been keeping Asher busy. Last month, he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he has been traveling the U.S. to negotiate partnerships with various entities. Professional teams and casinos in states that have either passed or have pending legislation seem to be his focus.
William Hill is the risk manager for Delaware sports betting. Delaware was the first state outside of Nevada to accept legal sports wagers. It then launched the first sportsbook, Monmouth Park Sports Book by William Hill in New Jersey soon after the state’s regulations became law.
Asher’s travels across the country are paying off in spades. In addition to Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey, the company has a sports betting presence in:
Additionally, William Hill inked a deal with Eldorado Resorts earlier this month to bring sports betting to seven more states.
It has been four months since the Supreme Court deemed PASPA unconstitutional. The sports betting industry has grown at an exponential rate and it appears no company has taken advantage of it more than William Hill.
Major sports leagues and a quickly changing industry
After supporting PASPA for decades, the major sports leagues saw the writing on the wall. After PASPA was struck down, they quickly changed their tune to try to capitalize on the sports betting movement.
They began seeking integrity fees at the state level, but that didn’t seem to go over too well with state legislators.
Then the leagues began lobbying at the federal level. While there is minimal traction, how federal legislation will play out now that sports betting is underway in several states is still an unknown.
How do the leagues capitalize on the sports betting fever taking over the country? The apparent answer is through partnerships with an industry they fought for many years.
The first big deal came in July. The NBA announced a marketing agreement when it teamed up with MGM Resorts International. The deal provides MGM access to the NBA’s intellectual property including marketing materials announcing MGM as the official betting partner of the NBA.
New Jersey Devils President Hugh Weber talked about the revenue potential for his organization to Bloomberg. Weber estimates upwards of $5 million in sponsorship partnerships with local sportsbooks and casinos.
“We see sports betting as additive to the experience for our fans,” said Weber. “There’s a lot on the horizon.”
With figures like that, it is easy to see why the major sports leagues are suddenly embracing the topic of sports betting.
An exciting partnership
The Knights and William Hill agreement have taken the idea of sponsorship to a new level.
Over the summer, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said to NBC Sports:
“We’ve historically been opposed to extending sports betting on our game, and, emotionally, I don’t think that’s changed. However, 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.
“From our standpoint, we believe that whether it’s our intellectual property or data, whether it’s a video of our game, we have important assets. And if somebody is going to avail themselves or want to avail themselves of those assets in order to conduct their business, then we’re going to need to have a negotiation.”
Look for more sportsbooks and sports team co-branding deals making their way to a sports venue near you.
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