NHL Chooses William Hill As Official Sports Betting Partner

NHL Chooses William Hill As Official Sports Betting Partner

Maybe the biggest thing that jumped out from the NHL’s official press release Thursday announcing William Hill as the official sports betting partner of the league, but this item: "Betting on NHL games has increased 38% during the 2018-19 season at William Hill's Nevada Sports Books. "

As the sport that has always lagged far behind the other big three North American pro leagues when it comes to the overall betting take as sportsbooks, this statistic might be the most encouraging aspect of all for a league that once was wary of dipping its toes into the world of sports betting.

Indeed, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who once threw mostly wet blankets on talk of betting on the sport, now is clearly in the "if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em" camp. In recent months, the NHL has also formed partnerships with MGM Resorts International and the FanDuel Group.

"This new partnership is yet another example of the innovative yet practical approach our League is taking with the emerging sports gaming industry," Bettman said in a prepared statement. "We continue to work directly with stakeholders to cultivate relationships across the sports betting landscape. Partnering with William Hill US, a leader in both the sportsbook and mobile betting marketplace, provides a tremendous opportunity to further fan engagement."

What the NHL-William Hill Deal Means

As part of the agreement, the NHL will derive marketing revenue from William Hill, and William Hill will have rights to league brands in their own marketing. Terms of the multiyear deal were not disclosed.

The Vegas Golden Knights’ stunning success out of the gate as an NHL franchise no doubt helped William Hill’s increased take from betting on the sport. That keeps in line with what other Vegas sportsbooks have said.

Jay Kornegay, vice president of Las Vegas Hotel and Casino SuperBook, told Gambling.com: “We did see a tremendous increase in our hockey numbers since the arrival of the Knights and their success” and that “the numbers continue to grow.”

Bigger Piece of Sports Betting Pie?

Whether the NHL can gain a significantly bigger piece of the sports betting pie outside of Las Vegas remains an open question. NHL U.S. national television ratings, always a key to increased betting on a sport, continues to be lagging, as the league still comes in fourth among the big four sports in North America.

With point spreads being a huge part of the lure to many bettors, the NHL’s static 1.5 goal spread (the puck line) doesn’t draw in the bigger-money bets of the other three sports.

A partnership with a heavyweight such as William Hill probably won’t hurt the cause, though. William Hill already had partnerships with the Golden Knights and New Jersey Devils, and sports betting in New Jersey has seen rapid growth.

"We are thrilled to become an official sports betting partner of the National Hockey League," said Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill US. "Commissioner Bettman and his team at the NHL have been at the forefront of understanding the opportunities to engage fans through sports betting.

"Combined with our existing partnerships with the Vegas Golden Knights and New Jersey Devils, we are extremely excited to continue to build our relationship with the NHL."