The National Hockey League (NHL) named ESPN Bet and the Score Bet as official betting partners in a move that signals a new era for US sports betting as the league, media coverage and sports betting blend into one product.
In a groundbreaking move, the National Hockey League (NHL) has announced its official betting partners, marking a significant shift in the sports betting landscape. The new partners are none other than ESPN Bet and theScore Bet, both owned by Penn Entertainment. This partnership is set to span through the 2024 NHL season. ESPN Bet is the official partner for USA and theScore Bet is the official partner for Ontario, Canada.
The NHL’s decision to partner with these entities is a strategic one. The league aims to leverage the vast reach and influence of ESPN, a Disney-owned sports channel, to engage with a broader audience and enhance the fan experience. As part of the deal, ESPN Bet and theScore Bet will gain access to many of the league’s entitlements, including media and marketing integrations and premium NHL experiences.
The partnership comes at a time when the sports betting scene in the US is experiencing a significant upswing. The emergence of ESPN Bet, which debuted on November 14 this year, is a testament to this trend. The platform launched in 17 states, capitalizing on the busy sports calendar during Thanksgiving.
Jason Jazayeri, NHL Vice President of Business Development, expressed his excitement about the partnership, saying, “There’s definite excitement in being one of the first leagues to partner with ESPN Bet and Penn Entertainment. From day one we’ve said our media rights deal with ESPN and The Walt Disney Company has been a big win for our fans and our League, and this new collaboration is further testament to the value of our partnership.”
Aubrey Levy, Penn Interactive’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Content, shared his enthusiasm about the recent launch of ESPN Bet in the US and the collaboration with the NHL. He said, “The recent launch of ESPN Bet in the US is extremely exciting and we’re thrilled to collaborate with the NHL to help market our new sports betting experience. Becoming an official partner allows us to more broadly engage hockey fans, develop compelling integrations and uniquely leverage NHL programming.”
Speaking about the NHL’s current state and its potential for fan engagement and responsible gaming experiences, Jason Jazayeri said, “The NHL is younger, faster and more exciting than ever, and delivers tremendous opportunity for fan engagement and responsible gaming experiences. We’re looking forward to working with ESPN Bet in the US and theScore Bet in Ontario to engage our passionate fan base.”
The rise of sports betting in the US is part of a larger trend. Since the Supreme Court cleared the way for legalized sports wagering in 2018, Americans have wagered over $65 billion on sports. Goldman Sachs projects that online sports betting could grow 40% annually over the next decade.
In November, the NBA, MLB and NHL teamed up for “Never Know What’s Next” 30-second ad that promotes responsible sports betting, in the light of recent emergence of problem gambling as the mainstream audience comes into contact with sports betting for the first time.
The NHL’s partnership with ESPN Bet and theScore Bet was not without competition. Earlier, the NHL had announced FanDuel and BetMGM as its first-ever North American sports betting partners. These companies expanded their rights into Canada, marking a significant milestone in the sports betting industry.
The NHL announced FanDuel and BetMGM as its North American sports betting partners on April 7, 2022. The partnership was a multi-year deal and it went live as soon as each partner came online in Ontario, Canada. This announcement came after the province of Ontario launched its regulated single-game sports betting market. As part of these expanded North American partnerships, FanDuel and BetMGM had rights to use official NHL branding and category designations in a variety of ways to appeal to fans and sports betting customers in legal jurisdictions across Canada and the United States.
The NHL’s move to embrace sports betting partnerships reflects a changing attitude towards sports gambling. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, once staunchly against sports gambling, stated that the Supreme Court decision made him change his opinion. This shift in perspective underscores the evolving dynamics of sports betting in the US and the potential it holds for enhancing fan engagement and generating revenue.
In the words of Jason Jazayeri, NHL Vice President of Business Development, “There’s definite excitement in being one of the first leagues to partner with ESPN BET and PENN Entertainment. From day one we’ve said our media rights deal with ESPN and The Walt Disney Company has been a big win for our fans and our League, and this new collaboration is further testament to the value of our partnership.”
This partnership signifies a new era in sports betting, with the NHL leading the way. As the landscape continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how other leagues and sports entities navigate this burgeoning market.
It must be noted that all licensed sportsbooks, as well as offshore sportsbooks, can offer NHL wagering. ESPN Bet and theScore Bet are simply the official partners but that doesn’t mean the others aren’t allowed to accept bets on NHL games.
The other professional sports in the US all have partnerships with sportsbooks. NFL has many approved sportsbooks, while MLB, NBA and MLS opted for exclusive or co-exclusive deals.
NFL: The NFL has announced its first-ever U.S. sportsbook partnerships with Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings, and FanDuel. Later, the NFL reached agreements with FOX Bet, BetMGM, PointsBet, and WynnBET to become Approved Sportsbook Operators for the 2021 NFL season.
MLB: Major League Baseball (MLB) announced a multi-year partnership with FanDuel Group, making its industry-leading sportsbook a co-exclusive Official Sports Betting Partner of MLB. Before this, FanDuel had worked with MLB as an authorized gaming operator of the league since 2019. MLB also had a deal with MGM Resorts.
NBA: The NBA announced multi-year expanded partnerships making DraftKings and FanDuel Group co-official sports betting partners of the NBA. Both companies have expansive rights to integrate NBA assets throughout their sports betting and daily fantasy sports platforms.
MLS: MLS announced a multi-year strategic partnership with MGM Resorts International, making MGM Resorts the league’s first official gaming partner. As part of the deal, Roar Digital, a joint venture between MGM and GVC, becomes the exclusive official sports betting partner of MLS.