Robitaille: NHL Ticket Prices Could Decrease Thanks To Betting Revenue
Over the last few weeks we have seen a number of teams from all over the American professional sports landscape start to agree to deals with various sports gambling entities. The most active franchise has been the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, who have already agreed to sponsorship contracts with the likes of FanDuel, William Hill and Caesars Entertainment within the last month.
The NHL as a whole has been at the forefront of American professional sports leagues’ increased willingness to partner with sports gambling companies. MGM recently became the official betting sponsor of the league. The surge in sponsorship deals has come on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) back in May, clearing the way for all states to legalize and regulate sports betting.
It has effectively created a brand new revenue stream for the interested parties. The NHL announced Monday that FanDuel has now become the “official sports betting partner” of the league. The Vegas Golden Knights also have a deal with William Hill. New Jersey and Nevada are the only two states with NHL teams in which gambling on sports betting is currently legal, though more are expected to follow suit in the months and years ahead.
Former NHLer and current Los Angeles Kings president Luc Robitaille said on the ESPN ON ICE podcast that he believes there could be a new windfall of revenue for the NHL if sports gambling continues to surge, as expected.
Robitaille said, “If teams profit, then everybody will profit. If you go by the numbers on the illegal part, it’s pretty significant. If that part ends up on the team side, I think it’s going to help everyone. First of all, the [salary] cap will go up. Fans will be happy. Teams will spend more money on players. Players’ salaries will go up.”
Robitaille added that he believes the new revenue could help fans save money on things like tickets and merchandise. He said, You would think this would help with always putting the pressure on fans to keep paying…hockey is still a ticket business, primarily. Hopefully that helps offset some of the ticket pricing. I’m not sure about it, but it could if the money is significant enough. There’s a lot that could go around it.”
He went on to say, “I’m not going to guarantee it’s going to bring down ticket prices, but it might hold the raise a little bit. If a team plans on raising ticket prices by 8 percent, they might only raise them by 5 or 4 percent. If there’s a lot more money at the table, it makes everybody’s life easier.”
Aligning themselves with sports betting companies is expected to cause the NHL’s annual revenue by over $215 million, per a study conducted by Nielsen Sports authorized by the American Gaming Association. Sportsbooks choosing to advertise with the NHL is expected to generate $65 million in revenue, as well.
Obviously, slashing ticket prices is music to the ears of any fan, so here’s hoping the NHL’s attempt to infuse more cash into the league by aligning with sportsbooks will pay the dividends many expect in the near future.
Things have changed considerably over the course of a few years. Back in 2012, the NHL joined a number of other professional sports leagues as well as the NCAA as groups staunchly opposed to the state of New Jersey’s attempts to overturn PASPA. The NHL and the other leagues feared that the legalization of sports gambling in the United States would lead to some integrity issues surrounding sports in the country. However, those feelings have all but evaporated. Last year, the NHL became the first league to put a pro team in Nevada, where sports gambling has been legal for quite some time. The NFL will soon follow when the Oakland Raiders move to Las Vegas in 2020, while Major League Baseball is reportedly looking at possibly expanding into the Las Vegas market.
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