Amongst the many current partnerships recently created between US professional sports teams and sportsbook operators, a new one stood out being announced on Wednesday. The gaming industry was shocked while several wanted to call it “a penalty” immediately.
The Vegas Golden Knights of the NHL announced a multi-year strategic partnership with UpickTrade.com, making the Mexican-based company an “Official Sports Pick Service Partner” of the team. UpickTrade.com is a website that sells betting picks, and the deal provides the Mexico company in-arena branding along with a presence on the Golden Knight’s official website and social media feeds akin to other popular current partnership arrangements.
In the customary press announcement Golden Knights Vice President of Global Partnership Mike Mungiello said in a joint statement:
We are thrilled to partner with UpickTrade.com and become the first professional sports franchise to partner with a sports recommendation service. We are hopeful our fanbase will make UpickTrade.com a part of their sports pick betting process.
As stunning as the concept was of pairing an NHL team with a sports tout service was the selection of UpickTrade, who has been relatively unknown versus other more advertised and highlighted sports selection service brands in the United States, both current and prior to sports wagering’s legalization growth.
According to their website, “UPickTrade” is a sports betting recommendation service created in 2017 and headquartered in Guadalajara, Mexico. UpickTrade uses a unique sports betting algorithm to deliver the best sports betting picks for the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL and includes a money management recommendation so clients can best balance risk versus reward on each transaction.”
The company advertises a slogan to “Make a Living Off of Sports” and offers “sports pick recommendation based on statistics and a great money management strategy for each client.”
Commenting upon the deal UpickTrade CEO Carlos Lazo Reyes offered these enthusiastic words:
As an Official Sports Recommendation Pick Service of the Vegas Golden Knights, it is a historic moment in the sports betting market. We are the first sports recommendation pick service to partner with a major professional sports franchise. The Vegas Golden Knights are a dynamic sports franchise that has been successful since their inaugural season in 2017. Our company, upicktrade.com also began in 2017 and has now grown to over 6,000 subscribers to our sports recommendations service worldwide!
The questions and suspicions from the industry and likely outsiders in putting together this new arrangement are many.
First, understanding this a third-party “pay for play service” that sells information to promote opportunities for customers to win money gambling on sports. UpickTrade charges clients $89 a month for its selections, including wagering upon the NHL.
Suspicion would linger whether they would make a potential recommendation “against the Golden Knights”. According to the picks posted on the UpickTrade website from January and February, the service has not offered predictions on any game involving the Knights.
The company’s website www.upicktrade.com. does not have any mention of the deal between themselves and the Vegas Golden Knights at this juncture. Asked about any potential for releasing a pick for or against the Golden Knights or have any information regarding injury or lineup changes, the company told ESPN “At this time the organization does not have any additional comments beyond what was included in the press release.”
Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, said via Twitter that the UpickTrade website does not contain any mention prominently displayed regarding responsible gambling information.
At a time when some US professional teams are coming under fire for promoting gambling and lighting a potential future firestorm compromising the integrity of the game, it seems unwise to accelerate it by encouraging fans to utilize a tout service within a team’s domain.
Certainly, a good deal for UpickTrade to land such a high-profile opportunity with the Vegas Golden Knights, it would be the opportunity of a lifetime to expand their business interests. It also creates other sports recommendation services to follow suit in seeking their own potential deals with other teams in the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball.
For an NHL team to designate “an official partner” does not seem that they have an equitable amount to gain. Especially when the league is off to a good start beginning other burgeoning new relationships with sportsbook operator partners DraftKings and PointsBet.
In this unique relationship, it is likely the axiom will hold that “What Happens in Vegas, Stays 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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