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Recently, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Twitter account sent out a tweet that showed in a snapshot, how the NHL has embraced sports betting.
In his last game, Matt Murray had a .933SV%.
Will his save percentage tonight be OVER or UNDER that tonight against the Jets?
Have any hot takes about tonight’s game? Visit https://t.co/U4nN351eEj to play for real.
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 8, 2019
This tweet from the Penguins’ official Twitter account is a prime example of the league’s progressive policy toward sports betting. An approach that has surged since the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead to states to legalize betting in May of 2018.
League officials have been upfront with teams to find new ways to promote their partnerships with local and national sportsbooks in order to take advantage of this new frontier of sports betting in America.
“I think we all sit here and watch what fantasy football has done for football and what fantasy sports has done for sports in general, and yeah, this is probably, and I believe I’ve seen (NHL commissioner Gary Bettman) quoted saying things somewhat similar to this, this is going to bring more eyeballs to the sport,” said Terry Kalna, the Penguins’ senior vice president of sales and broadcasting. “That’s a good thing for the sport.”
Bettman was not always at the forefront of the sports betting push for the NHL. As recently as 2012, in a deposition for the New Jersey lawsuit that ultimately overturned sports betting in the United States, the commissioner told lawyers that the environment at professional hockey games was “inconsistent with sports betting.”
For Bettman, however, the Supreme Court decision not only changed his mind, but he began to see the new laws as an opportunity for growth in the NHL.
“A lot of this goes way back with the commissioner and deputy commissioner [Bill Daly] as far as their understanding of this business and having been involved in various legislation over decades,” said Keith Wachtel, the NHL’s executive vice president of global partnerships and chief revenue officer.
“We were in a position to understand the potential market if PASPA got overturned through those relationships in Las Vegas.”
“A lot’s always been said as to the commissioner himself, why the change? And he’ll be the first to tell you and you can see it in many stories is that what changed his mind, first and foremost, was PASPA being overturned,” Wachtel concluded.
After placing a team in Las Vegas with the Golden Knights, the sports betting landscape for the NHL changed even further with the New Jersey Devils’ agreement with sportsbook powerhouse Caesars Sportsbook. The partnership was the first-ever between an NHL franchise and a gaming operator.
“We’re excited that the leagues are getting behind it,” said Jamie Shea, the head of DraftKings Digital Sportsbook. “I think everybody realized that this is happening. So how do we do it where we work together?”
For the Penguins, the deal with the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh makes sense because it is engaging a local base of fans that can drive a short distance to place a bet on the night’s game or use a mobile app.
“Our team would have worked with them on the content, and then once we develop a plan, then it is entirely on the Penguins to go and execute that plan,” Mr. Kalna told The Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
The NHL has plans to incorporate microchips worn by players and embedded in the pucks used in games to release tracking data that can be used by sportsbooks for more real-time betting and pre-game proposition bets.
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