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Volume 23 No. 18
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NHL rules evolve along with sports betting laws

From the NHL Board of Governors Meeting — Las Vegas

Given that it was held in Las Vegas, perhaps it was appropriate that the hottest topic during the NHL Board of Governors meeting last week centered around gambling.

The NHL, the least bet-on among the traditional big four leagues in North America, saw a clear uptick in interest from gamblers in Sin City over the last 12 months, largely due to the success of the hometown Vegas Golden Knights.

While NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the league has no concerns over its oversight of sports gambling as more states look to legalize it, the NHL has made a move to take advantage of that. Teams are permitted to partner with gambling companies around generic advertising, and in states where sports gambling is legal they are allowed to partner with a sports book, as the Devils can do in New Jersey. Previously, the NHL had a clear restriction that teams could not partner with a sports book, and while partnerships were allowed with casinos, sports betting could not be explicitly referenced, nor could ads appear next to game scores.

“I think we’re all going to learn a lot over the next several months and years,” Daly said. “It’s going to be an evolution, but we didn’t see any reason, now that it’s clearly legal in New Jersey, to stand in the way of them taking advantage of that opportunity if there is one.”

New Jersey and Nevada are the only two states that have full-scale legalized sports betting and also have NHL teams. The Golden Knights have partnered with Wynn Las Vegas to be their casino sponsor.

REVENUE GENERATOR: NHL hockey-related revenue increased about 8 percent this season, bringing the league’s total to more than $4.5 billion. One of the biggest drivers was the success of the Golden Knights, who set NHL merchandise records for both per caps and total sales at T-Mobile Arena.

ON TRACK WITH DATA: The NHL is continuing its move into player and puck tracking, with a goal of releasing more of the data it collects to the public next season. This year, much of it was held internally as the league continued to test its tracking processes. The NHL’s goal is to have it fully integrated by the start of the 2019-20 season, using RFID technology in the puck and a camera-based player tracking system.

ALL EYES ON SEATTLE: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that there have been no setbacks in the league’s quest to add a 32nd team, in Seattle. Still, there is no timetable for the expansion process due to the approved and planned renovation of KeyArena. An expansion vote could take place at the next board meeting, which is set for September in Palm Beach, Fla.