Industry Reports

Canada Unlikely to See Benefits of NHL Partnership in the Short Term

Earlier this week, the National Hockey League (NHL) revealed its plans to get into the gambling business.

A few days ago, the professional sports league signed a partnership agreement with the gambling behemoth MGM Resorts International, which has become its first sports betting and resort partner. As Casino Reports has already revealed, the agreement will provide it with unique and exclusive data for use in betting.

The fact that the NHL is entering the gambling sector could mean a lot to Canadian hockey fans, despite this would not be actually visible in the short term. The Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) has welcomed the above-mentioned partnership and has invited the NHL to join forces with the local gambling sector so that long-expected changes are finally brought to the Canadian gambling industry.

A few months ago, the US Supreme Court’s groundbreaking ruling in favor of the state of New Jersey ended up with the legalization of sports betting in the country. This step opened the way for neighboring countries of the US to consider the expansion of their gambling sectors by adding sports betting to the existing services.

For the time being, Canada has a very limited sports betting market, as it allows only so-called “parlay bets” to be run through state lotteries in each province. Single-event sports betting, however, is not currently allowed in the country. According to some proponents of single-event sports betting, a partnership with the NHL could change that.

Implementing Single-Game Sports Betting Could Be Beneficial for Canada

As revealed by Gary Bettman, a NHL commissioner, the professional sports league’s seven Canadian teams have been working with the lottery authorities engaged with the regulation of gambling in the Canadian provinces.

According to Mr. Bettman, this partnership would continue in the future, which could eventually result in the legalization of single-event sports betting in Canada. Mr. Bettman further noted the opportunity for boosting the fan engagement as a result of such deals for the league.

What is more, the NHL seems no longer bothered on betting on professional hockey teams’ events. In the past, the league had long demonstrated its opposition to wagering on its events, but Paul Burns, President and CEO of the CGA has explained NHL’s change of heart with the recent changes in the US sports betting legislation. Implementing single-game wagers in the Canadian gambling landscape would be beneficial for the local industry for another reason, too. According to some estimates, Canadian gamblers spend an amount of CA$14 billion on an annual basis on illegal channels offering single-event sports betting.

In order for single-event wagering to be permitted, paragraph 207(4)(b) of the Criminal Code needs to be annulled. There have been previous attempts for this to happen, including a private member’s bill which failed to succeed in the Senate before the federal election in 2015.