The new official sports betting partnership between NHL and American gambling establishment MGM has Canadian hockey fans feeling trapped behind the glass.
A recent partnership announcement between MGM and NHL will soon express a tighter relationship and cross advertising of their products including during major games and events where MGM will advertise its sportsbook, hotels, and travel destinations. Canadians represent a majority of NHL fans and are feeling left out of the fun. In Canada, single-game sports gambling is not legal so fans would need to travel to the US to participate in this type of bet. Currently, Canadians can enjoy multigame betting through provincial lotteries.
However, this partnership will also affect 7 Canadian NHL teams. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said they “have been working with the [Canadian] lottery authorities who control gambling on a provincial basis”. However, Gary Bettman hinted at Canada potentially allowing single-gaming wagering.
While the NHL has not favored the legalization of sports betting in the past as shown through their legal actions against its expansion, some believe the NHL was forced to revisit their stance after the Supreme Court threw out PASPA. This change of heart for the NHL is believed by CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association, Paul Burns.
The current issue concerns the lack of legislation permitting Canadians to wager on single games like Hockey games. However, this issue currently affects those Canadians who stay within their domestic borders. Those Canadians who travel to destinations like Las Vegas can enjoy legal sports gambling away from home.
The trip to Las Vegas from Western Canada is a short one and nearly 1.44 million Canadians travel annually. The NHL has a team based in Vegas now and is sure to benefit from their new presence. Vegas Golden Knights Chief Marketing Officer Brian Killingsworth mentioned that Vegas “saw incredible crowds travel from Western Canada all throughout the season”. Even the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) confirmed Canadians visit Vegas the most out of tourists from any other country. This is due to Las Vegas’s close proximity to Canada with plenty of non-stop flights daily.
Therefore, it is without a doubt that 2019 will show an increase of Candian travel to Las Vegas and a potential change to Canadian gambling laws.