Could Legal Sports Betting Provide Opportunity For NHL Growth?
The NHL "knows that a lack of interest from gamblers has stunted the league's growth in the U.S., in comparison to the popularity of pro and college football and basketball," according to Greg Wyshynski of ESPN.com. The league has "made some nascent attempts at creating ways to wager more on hockey," such as "restructuring the Stanley Cup Playoffs into an office pool-ready bracket without reseeding." Wyshynski: "So hopefully it knows that leaning into the wave of sports betting that's crashing over the nation is better for the league's growth than swimming away from it." The fact is that the NHL "might have to swallow some pride and concede on a few things." NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has "been loathe to have in-arena betting like they have in European soccer leagues." Mobile wagering "renders that concern moot." The opportunity is there for legalized sports betting to "expand the NHL's consumer base, especially given where the tech is headed." Whether Bettman and the NHL are "bold enough to foster and encourage that growth ... well, all bets are off" (ESPN.com, 8/3).
GAME CHANGER: Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart said of legalized sports gambling, "This changes the game. I think that there’s concern, to be honest with you, and I think in -- patience, moving cautiously into this area, has a lot of merit. There’s going to be a lot of conversations nationally about, we must do these things to ensure. I think some of those things we’ve been doing on our own." He added, "We need to be really cautious and not race to a new spot without real thought" (KENTUCKYSPORTSRADIO.com, 8/3).