[toc]The latest twist for the pro sports leagues and their stance on sports betting came from the NHL.
The commissioner of the NHL, Gary Bettman, told Bloomberg that he would ask MGM to take Las Vegas Golden Knights games off the board at nearby casinos.
The NHL, Vegas and sports betting
First things first: The Golden Knights are about to open up play in their first season in the NHL on Friday. The league decided to become the first major pro North American sports league with a franchise in the gambling capital of the world.
The NFL will join it there in a few years, when the Raiders franchise moves from Oakland, Calif., to Vegas.
All of this was viewed as a positive for the leagues’ evolution on sports gambling, and accepting it in a regulated market like Nevada sports betting. The NHL in particular:
- Said it would not ask for state regulators to force all sportsbooks to take Knights games off the board.
- The team could enter into agreements with casinos with sportsbooks thanks to a change in policy.
But Bettman seemed to take a step back on how much his league was embracing legal sports betting.
Not all casinos for NHL?
Here’s what Bettman said, according to Bloomberg:
In his office, Bettman said he’ll simply ask MGM Chairman Jim Murren to remove home games from casinos adjacent to the arena, the Monte Carlo and New York, New York. “One of the things we’re focused on is the atmosphere in the arena,” Bettman said. “We’re family-friendly.”
Murren didn’t respond to requests for comment, and the NHL, a month before the season, had no further comment.
Those comments seem to mesh with those from the Knights’ owner, who said the games would be taken off the board at some casinos. However, there’s not yet been any indication that that would actually be the case.
Concerned about being ‘family friendly’?
The fact that Bettman thinks taking games off the board at nearby casinos is a good idea is sort of baffling. That the request is based on being “family friendly” is misguided at worst and disingenuous at best.
T-Mobile Arena is just off the Vegas Strip; you could be out of the game and in one of the two nearby MGM casinos in a couple of minutes.
Being able to place bets on an NHL game at either of these properties doesn’t make the games less friendly for families. If Bettman really thinks that, he probably should never have put a franchise in Vegas in the first pace.
(There’s also this: He’s arguing that a game where fighting still takes place is somehow less damaging to the family atmosphere than the innocuous presence of sports betting around said game.)
Yes, the NHL might be trying to avoid a scenario where there is booing or cheering because of a goal that covers a spread (and for the opposing team, possibly). But that’s not making the atmosphere worse for families in any measurable way.
There’s also the fact that you can bet on the games while actually attending the games.
Mobile betting will happen at Knights games
Let’s say, for a second that MGM would actually agree to this (which they probably won’t and shouldn’t; more on that later.)
Even if that’s the case, you would be able to bet the Knights’ games from the comfort of your seat in T-Mobile Arena.
Almost every sportsbook in the state offers mobile wagering; that includes via an app from MGM. A limited ban on betting on Knights games based on physical proximity wouldn’t even come close to curtailing betting on the games by attending fans.
MGM should not placate the NHL
The other part of the equation: I hope MGM wouldn’t even entertain the idea of a limited ban like this.
In fact, I’d be insulted by Bettman’s request, if I were executives at MGM. Implying that betting on NHL games is somehow an unsavory activity digs at what its sportsbooks do and is utter nonsense.
Indeed, MGM and most of the casinos in Las Vegas are for an expansion of sports betting via the American Gaming Association. Giving into a request like this would legitimize the idea that sports betting is somehow bad for sports leagues.
In fact, it’s the opposite. It increases engagement and interest, even if Bettman doesn’t agree.
MGM should take Knights bets at all of its properties, because it’s the best thing for everyone involved.