Sports News

NHL selects William Hill as an official sports betting partner

(Reuters) - The National Hockey League said on Thursday the U.S. division of UK bookmaker William Hill Plc will become an official sports betting partner of the NHL.

Mar 27, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Vegas Golden Knights center Paul Stastny (26) controls the puck ahead of Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) in the third period at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The league will get marketing revenue from the sports book, which can use NHL brands in advertising, excluding the NHL’s new puck and player data. Terms of the multi-year deal were not disclosed.

Such commercial deals between sports leagues and bookmakers have been coming quickly since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last May to allow states to legalize, regulate and tax sports wagering.

Eight states now offer legal sports betting, including Nevada, which was never subject to the prior federal ban and has sanctioned sports wagering for years.

William Hill already has partnership deals with two NHL teams, the Vegas Golden Knights and the New Jersey Devils.

The NHL in November announced a sports wagering partnership with FanDuel Group, a unit of Paddy Power Betfair Plc, coming on the heels of an agreement with MGM Resorts International.

MGM agreed to pay for something that FanDuel and William Hill chose not to buy: the NHL’s new and evolving trove of data it will generate from putting sensors inside pucks and on players’ shoulder pads.

The tracking technology generates 200 data points per second on players and 2,000 data points per second on the puck, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said.

Such data could eventually be used to fuel specific, specialized in-game wagers, a kind of live betting that is likely to grow along with technological advancements and fan interest.

In other deals with sportsbooks, “the other leagues came up with this concept of you ‘must buy official league data,’” said Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill US, when talking to reporters during a sports betting conference sponsored by the American Gaming Association.

But that is “something that they can set monopoly pricing on, which is not a particularly attractive thing for a commercial actor like we are,” Asher said. “The NHL has not taken that approach.”

If the NHL’s experiment with puck and player data bears fruit in the future and can help Asher’s business, “then we’ll certainly be on the phone looking to expand our relationship,” he said.

The NHL has an exclusive deal with Sportradar to provide the rest of the league’s official live game data, which does not include the puck and player data.

Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Chris Reese