Imagine being at your local NHL arena and when you go up to the concessions stand there are sports gambling kiosks. You are able to go up to state of the art machines and place live and future bets, even on the game you are attending. So now when you return to your seat to watch the game, you not only have an ice-cold beer and a hotdog but a wager on the action right in front of you!
After developing a system to track in-game data by putting sensors in hockey pucks and forming a partnership with MGM last fall, the NHL plans to allow hockey fans and more specifically bettors to do all of the above at all NHL arenas in states and provinces where sports gambling is legal. T-Mobile Arena, the home fo the Vegas Golden Knights is scheduled to be the first arena where live betting kiosks will be available for fans and the hope is that other arenas will follow suit this upcoming season.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told SBRPicks.com in an email Wednesday, that while this won’t happen on opening night of the 2019-20 season, we should still see this introduced in the NHL at some point in the upcoming season.
“Potentially at some point during the season, but not by opening night,’ Daly said.
On Wednesday another NHL source told SBR Picks that while nothing is set in stone yet, TD Garden in Boston could be one of the first NHL arenas to follow the lead of T-Mobile Arena and that the NHL is doing everything it can to make that happen.
“Jacobs has been one of the biggest advocates of in-arena betting and these kiosks and while he has some hurdles to overcome with the state of Massachusetts, he is determined to make this a reality,’ the source said. “Jacobs is the head of the board of governors and he has the full support of the league and many NHL owners. He’s been spearheading this for a while now and knowing him, he won’t back down until not only his rink has these Kiosks, but as many as possible do in the NHL.’
The ‘Jacobs’ the source is referring to is Jeremy Jacobs, whose company Delaware North owns and operates TD Garden and the Boston Bruins. Delaware North already has plenty of gaming properties and thanks to them, the NHL appears to be ahead of the curve amongst the NHL, NBA, MLB, and NFL in terms of really adopting and incorporating legalized sports gambling into their arenas and sport.
“We view sports wagering as a great opportunity for us to engage fans and get the casual fan interested in sports in a new way,” Amy Latimer, president of TD Garden, said in testimony prepared for the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, which is reviewing sports betting bills earlier this year. “We understand gaming, sports, and the customer, and Delaware North would like the ability to participate as a sports wagering provider.”
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman had already expressed similar sentiments regarding the NHL’s desire to incorporate this into the fan experience at NHL arenas.
“The new sports betting landscape presents a unique opportunity for fan engagement utilizing technology and data that are exclusive to our League,’ NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said when the partnership between MGM and the NHL was announced. “Fan engagement, technological advancement and innovation are paramount to our progressive approach and will be at the forefront of everything we do.’
While the NHL has made it abundantly clear it will and always has respected each state’s and province’s sports gambling laws, one tricky element of the process has and continues to be should a company like Delaware North, whose owner also owns a pro sports team, be allowed to profit off and have these kiosks in his or her arenas?
Earlier this year, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker introduced a bill that would legalize sports betting in Massachusetts, making them the third New England state to do so after Rhode Island and New Hampshire who did so over the last two years. However, one of Baker’s conditions in his proposal addressed the conflict of interest with a pro sports team owner profiting off sports gambling outlets.
Baker’s bill prohibits any “director of a sports governing body or any of its member teams,” and other people who “holds a position of authority or influence sufficient to exert influence over the participants in a sporting contest” from having an ownership interest or being employed by a licensee that offers sports betting and bars the same group of people from placing bets on their own sport. He also included athletes, coaches, managers, referees, trainers, as part of that group that would not be allowed to participate in sports gambling in any way.
Senior vice president of government and external affairs for Delaware North Jack McNeill feels Delaware North and other arenas, regardless of whom their owners are, should still be involved and is welcome to certain provisions.
“We believe in common-sense rules that the leagues have already in place. We don’t think that Jeremy Jacobs should be able to bet on the Bruins,” McNeill said in hearings back in May on the matter. “We do think, however, that arenas should have the ability to have a platform, whether that be something therein or a third-party provider, they should have that ability to engage with their customers.”
With the 2019-20 NHL hockey season fast approaching and more and more states legalizing sports gambling, the NHL seems positioned to corner the market from the start.