The popular phrase “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” most appropriately fits the Vegas Golden Knights ending their less than a week relationship with Mexican-based sports tout service UpickTrade.com.
In what might be remembered as the shortest Las Vegas marriage on record, the NHL’s Golden Knights disclosed that UpickTrade would not be featured on the team’s web and social media platforms nor on the boards around the rink of their T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Essentially, terminating any partnership agreement they established or publicized last week to the public.
Perhaps the NHL’s official web page nhl.com simply says it best. When scrolling for the PR announcement made available last Wednesday under the Golden Knights team category, it now reads “Oof!! We are sorry, but you have reached this page in error”.
It is difficult to collect universal opinion on any subject, however all media members plus all involved in the sports wagering business sector unanimously swooped in here collectively to quickly pan this ill-conceived concept.
There were many flaws with this idea but the easiest to identify was the bad feeling for UpickTrade’s ability to sell picks on Golden Knights games and whether or not they could possibly access inside information directly from the team. An opportunity to receive key injury reports or lineup changes. UpickTrade told ESPN they would be allowed to sell picks on games involving the Golden Knights but they “did not expect to receive injury or lineup information from the team.”
Basically, this was a third-party service that way charging $89 per month and promoting a misleading message on their website. UpickTrade said they offer “sports pick recommendation based on statistics and a great money management strategy for each client.” Adding to that “Make a Living Off Sports!” was the type of gross exaggeration most tout firms have often advertised. The shocking difference was none have ever been promoted as “the Official Partner” of an NHL hockey team, as the Vegas Golden Knights had announced last week.
At the time Carlos Lazo Reyes, CEO of UpickTrade, called the partnership a “historic moment in the sports betting market.” In posting this latest news a spokesperson from UpickTrade told ESPN “We are still in shock about the decision”.
Todd Dewey of the Las Vegas Review-Journal commented the initial announcement of the deal was “met with universal disdain” on the team’s Twitter feed (the initial tweet has been deleted) along with dozens of other collective negative responses.
USBookmaking Sportsbook Director Robert Walker told the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
The obvious issue is the unscrupulous nature of the tout business itself, Some, not all, lie or mislead about their success rates, etc. It is not a business a sportsbook would want to be in bed with. It is a thousand times worse for a sports team to be associated with one, less sponsoring one. I never in my wildest imagination believed we would be talking about a team from a major sport sponsoring a tout service. So wrong on so many levels that it’s hard to know where to start.
Although the concept would never have been timed correctly, certainly introducing this very controversial partnership between a tout service and a professional team came at the wrong moment.
The NHL has been amidst in building new relationships with sportsbook operators including PointsBet and DraftKings Sportsbook that have been largely well-received. Also, many retired sports celebrities have been announced as “ambassadors” or public relations officials between professional league teams, the sportsbooks and the public.
Suspicion has always reigned of any potential problem involving the integrity of the games affecting the positive growth for the US legalized sports wagering. The pick-selling sports tout industry has had a notorious reputation for several years. Why would a pro team and the NHL take the risk with such little to gain?
Thankfully, announcing their annulment this week, I suppose the NHL and the Vegas Golden Knights would like to believe this was not an official marriage that ever took place. Rather an ill-fated broken engagement that “happened in Vegas and stayed in Vegas”.
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Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
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