William Hill US and the Vegas Golden Knights have reached a sports betting sponsorship agreement. This is a first time an NHL team has joined forces with a sportsbook and marks yet another step forward as the professional sports leagues pivot towards a warmer relationship with legal sports betting in the USA.
The terms of the deal were not released, but a William Hill press release explained that William Hill US and the Golden Knights have reached a multi-year partnership in which they “will collaborate on engaging fans of legal betting age through various media, advertising and promotional platforms.”
One of those collaborations will include a “TV visible dasherboard,” which refers to what will likely be a William Hill advertisement displayed along the inner wall of the ice rink at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The deal also includes plans for other in-arena signage, the displays of league-wide NHL betting odds on the jumbotron during intermission, an away game watch party and a display on the LED ribbon called the “William Hill Line Change” that will recognize when the Golden Knights make a line change during the game.
William Hill US CEO Joe Asher said this in a statement on Tuesday:
“We could not be more excited to partner with the Golden Knights. We are headquartered in Las Vegas and have seen first-hand what this team has done for the community. William Hill is the leader in the U.S. sports betting market and we proud of the fact that this is the first sponsorship agreement between a sports book and an NHL team in the country. We appreciate the leadership of Bill Foley and his Golden Knights management team in bringing a winning franchise to Las Vegas and always working to make the in-game experience the best anywhere.”
Here’s what Golden Knights President Kerry Bubolz said regarding the deal:
“We are always looking for innovative ways to engage different segments of our fan base and provide a unique fan experience. Like the Golden Knights, William Hill US is a proud ‘Vegas Born’ organization. This partnership between a major professional team and a sports book operator is a historic, landmark agreement and we are delighted to be leading the way with William Hill in this space.”
The Vegas Golden Knights are an apt partner for William Hill in this deal. Both companies have roots in Las Vegas, with William Hill being the largest sportsbook operator in the state and the Golden Knights last year becoming the first major professional sports team to be based in Las Vegas.
The NHL’s Changing Stance on Sports Betting
Like other major sports leagues, the NHL is changing its tune when it comes to sports betting. The NHL worked alongside the NFL, NBA, MLB and NCAA in contesting New Jersey’s sports betting effort that led to the Supreme Court deciding to overturn the federal sports betting prohibition.
Back then, the NHL was firmly opposed to sports betting. After the Supreme Court issued its ruling, the NHL opened the door a crack when it issued a statement saying that it will “review our current practices and policies and decide whether adjustments are needed…”
Now that an NHL franchise has signed an agreement with a sports betting operator, it’s clear something has changed back at NHL headquarters. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said on Tuesday that the NHL has changed its policies to “allow clubs to partner with legal sports books in territories where sports betting is legal.”
There isn’t any other information out there regarding what other policy changes the NHL has announced, but what we can gather from that little snippet is teams such as the New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins could also potentially sign similar deals as they are all located in states that have legalized sports betting.
The NHL is hardly the only major professional sports league warming up to sports betting. The NFL recently changed its rules to allow certain types of sponsorships with casinos that offer sports betting. The Cowboys were quick to take advantage of the change and formed a partnership with WinStar World Casino and Resort out of southern Oklahoma.
Changes are also afoot at the NBA, with MGM Resorts International recently becoming the “official gaming partner of the NBA.” All three leagues – the NHL, NFL and NBA – were once staunchly opposed to sports betting. Now, all have changed their rules in a bid to open new sponsorship opportunities for their leagues and franchise owners.