In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a federal law that essentially outlawed sports gambling outside of Nevada, some professional sports leagues are finally acknowledging what has long been the elephant in the room: sports and gambling go together. They are connected. They are one.
In July, MGM Resorts International teamed up with the NBA to become the league’s official gambling partner. The deal, which gave MGM exclusive league-owned data to be used across its live betting platforms, was the first of its kind in the United States, after years of various commissioners and officials across several leagues laughably acting as if sports wagering was some type of toxic danger.
Times have clearly changed.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who was once an outspoken opponent of sports wagering, announced earlier today the league will enter into a similar partnership with MGM Resorts, one that will make the casino the league’s “official gaming” and “destination partner.”
The NHL’s pact with MGM is not exclusive, and the league will be free to sell its advanced data and logo rights to other sportsbooks.
So, why should you care? Here’s Bettman:
The new sports betting landscape presents a unique opportunity for fan engagement utilizing technology and data that are exclusive to our league. Fan engagement, technological advancement and innovation are paramount to our progressive approach and will be at the forefront of everything we do.
“Now that sports wagering is becoming legal, everybody else is capitalizing on this shit, and we are, too.” Please bet on my sport.”
Scott Butera, MGM’s President of Interactive Gaming, outlined how the technological advancements referenced by Bettman will impact hockey’s wagering experience:
If I know one player is faster than the other, if I know one expends less energy than the other, if I know one has a faster slap shot than the other, it gives me information that I can bet. If I’m betting on who will score the most goals, I have that tool. Ultimately when enough data is collected on that, we’ll be able to actually bet on that data itself. So you could have a bet on which player’s going to have the highest average slap shot throughout the game.
And while there are additional business implications to the deal, Butera’s words are really the lead here.
Most bettors won’t care if a mobile platform features team logos, or league-approved graphics, they want reliable and timely data that presents fair lines and a wide-range of wagering options.
As a practical matter, this next-gen data should, in time, allow for the development of live in-game wagering possibilities that will extend well-beyond standard team to win and game total selections. Such traditional wagers will remain popular moving forward, but unique and nuanced, sport-specific propositions are the future of sports gambling, and we’re now a step closer to seeing that in the sport of hockey. Moreover, it will also provide oddsmakers with more that will allow them to set more precise and proper betting lines and prices.
While Bettman says this next-generation data will likely be available upon the start of the 2019-2020, it’s not yet exactly known when or how it will be publicly consumed. Stay tuned.