In May of this year, in what was a landmark moment in the history of the United States sports betting market, the US Supreme Court passed a ruling to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), the federal law that had vastly limited sports betting in the States for the last 25 years.
Betting on sports events has been a heavily restricted commodity in America since the advent of PASPA in 1992, a stark contrast from across the Atlantic where the UK gambling industry as a whole takes £14bn a year. Until May 14th, placing a bet on a single sports event was only permitted in the state of Nevada. But with prohibition coming to an end, the states of Delaware, New Jersey and Mississippi are now licensed regions where you can bet on your team. New York, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Pennsylvania will all follow suit in the near future.
Traditionally, hockey has never been a highly bet on sport in volume, but the decision to give states the power to pass their own legislation on sports betting is certain to have a huge impact on the NHL.
A study by Nielsen Sports for the American Gaming Association has estimated that the annual revenue of the National Hockey League could be increased by as much as $216m due to the change in sports betting law, with factors such as heightened levels of fan engagement and consumption of NHL content and products increasing the league’s profitability alongside outright gaming related revenue in the form of sponsorship, advertising and product fees.
“Today’s announcement reaffirms that legal, regulated sports betting will create significant new revenue opportunities for sports leagues,” Sara Slane, the senior vice president of public affairs for the American Gaming Association said back in May. “Much like the NHL’s recent successful expansion into Las Vegas, legal sports betting will continue to expand across the country, bringing with it a $216m opportunity for the league.”
Last season saw the debut of newly formed Las Vegas-based NHL franchise the Vegas Golden Knights, who in their foundational year side surpassed expectations to only miss out on play-off victory in dramatic fashion.
In conducting the study, Nielsen Sports surveyed more than 1,000 adult sports fans – including NHL fans – and self-identified sports bettors nationwide to model how a national, legal sports betting market would affect the sports consumption habits of non-bettors, casual bettors and avid bettors, and how this change in consumption would translate to increased revenue.
Last season was the debut NHL campaign of newly-formed Las Vegas-based franchise the Vegas Golden Knights. In its first outing, the side achieved an incredibly strong performance, winning the Western Conference Pacific Division and reaching the Stanley Cup Finals, marking the strongest debut season for an expansion team in North American professional sports history. At the start of the current season, that meant you could get 11/1 on betting apps Android sites on the Knights to lift the 2018/19 Stanley Cup.
A difficult start to this season has seen those odds slide to 100/1 across major bookmakers like Ladbrokes, but either way, one thing you can bet on is that the optimism surrounding the franchise will have seen an attacking zone of wagers placed, and therefore mass revenue created.
The Vegas Golden Knights play their home games at the state-of-the-art new $375 million T-Mobile Arena, itself an emblem of the success that the gambling industry has brought to the city in the desert and perhaps a metaphor of what gambling revenue will bring to all major American sports, including hockey.