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Volume 26 No. 208
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Gary Bettman: Embracing Gambling About Evolving With The Times

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said once sports betting became legal in the U.S. last year, the league "had to evolve with the times and make sure that our fans would have the best possible way to connect with our game." CNBC's Contessa Brewer noted Bettman was once a "staunch opponent of legalizing gambling," but now has "embraced it fully." Bettman: "If you're not a hockey fan yet but you're a sports fan and you want to place a bet, we may turn you on as a new fan. It was just a question of evolving with the times." Bettman noted the league's partnerships with sportsbooks like William Hill "give us an opportunity to work together to bring our brands together." He said, "When we ultimately start dealing with the media companies in our next media negotiation, there will be opportunities to focus on what this will do to expand our viewership." Bettman said of new technological innovations, "We're in the process of scaling player and puck tracking which will send off thousands of data points so that our fans can have a second screen experience. ... It may provide an opportunity for prop betting." More Bettman: "We have three partnerships -- FanDuel, MGM and William Hill -- and we've had a relationship longer term with MGM because of the Golden Knights being here in Las Vegas. There's an opportunity to create revenue streams, but as importantly, there's an opportunity for fan engagement" ("Power Lunch," CNBC, 10/16).

STATS & INFO: Bettman said that the NHL "eventually plans to ask sportsbooks to pay for their proprietary data." He said the league has not "asked them yet, although MGM is entitled to that data when we do it." Bettman: "At the end of the day, we're going to spend tens of millions of dollars to install it, and we're going to spend millions of dollars to operate it each year. ... If you're going to do prop betting, you have to have it in real time. This is something we're going to create, and the only way you're going to be able to access it is through us." In Las Vegas, Dewey & Velotta note sports betting "certainly keeps more viewers engaged in games, and Bettman expects it to help the league's bargaining position when it negotiates its next TV rights deal." The NHL's current 10-year contract with NBC and NBCSN expires after the '21-22 season. Bettman: "From a league standpoint, we think sports betting will increase viewership, which will be good for rights fees and advertising revenue" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 10/17).