NHL Announces Sports Betting Partnership With MGM Resorts

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The National Hockey League announced Monday it will become partners in sports betting with MGM Resorts International, agreeing to a multi-year data sharing and marketing deal.

The NHL follows in the footsteps of the NBA, which has a similar agreement with MGM with the difference that the NHL deal isn’t exclusive. The NHL may form partnerships with others as it sees fit.

The agreement, which makes MGM the league’s official gaming partner and resort destination, was called “both exciting and groundbreaking” by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “This is a broad, encompassing relationship between two powerful brands.”

That partnership includes MGM having access to the NHL’s intellectual property, including its trademarks and team logos for promotion and marketing. MGM also will receive advanced real-time game data especially helpful for in-play and prop betting.

Earlier this month, an American Gaming Association report said NHL annual revenue could increase $216 million due to legalized sports betting.

“The new sports betting landscape presents a unique opportunity for fan engagement utilizing technology and data that are exclusive to our league,” Bettman said. ”As a leading global gaming operator and entertainment company, MGM Resorts is the perfect partner for us to begin our transformative entry into this space. Fan engagement, technological advancement and innovation are paramount to our progressive approach and will be at the forefront of everything we do.” 

Bettman explained that the game data technology is being developed and tested and should be “ready for primetime next season.”

When asked about concerns NHL player privacy could be at risk concerning injury data or other available statistics Bettman said the goal has always been about broadcast enhancement and having another screen experience where fans can connect and get data on the game.

“This is more of a secondary usage that we didn’t anticipate at the time and we’ve been in discussions,” Bettman said. “The players share 50-50 in the revenues we develop, but to us, having a direct relationship with MGM gives us the ability to have more control over the types of bets that are being placed and how the data is being used, which is vitally important to us and we assume to the players.”

Since May, when the U.S Supreme Court overturned the sports gambling ban, casinos have been eager to strike up partnerships to make the most of the widening sports-betting market.

“We believe fan engagement is everything,” Jim Murren, MGM Resorts chairman and CEO told CNBC. “We’re a for-profit businesses and we expect to make money in this venture but it is not the end game. The end game is to develop a closer relationship globally with customers whether they are hockey fans or not so they visit our resorts.”

That engagement includes the more than 31 million participants in the MGM Resorts M Life Loyalty program which will benefit from the partnership through getting invitations or chances to attend MGM-sponsored events with the NHL, including the Winter Classic, All-Star Game and Stanley Cup Finals.

 “It was easiest, most sensible to us to start with somebody who is already a partner and somebody we already had a working relationship with, namely MGM," he said.

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