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Ready or not, legal sports betting is taking root inside US sports venues.
William Hill announced Thursday a partnership with the New Jersey Devils that includes a physical presence at Prudential Center. A newly branded sports lounge will open in the main concourse of the arena in the coming weeks.
This deal is the second between an NHL team and a sports betting company in the last two months, both involving William Hill. The international sports betting heavyweight first partnered with the Las Vegas Golden Knights in September.
CEO Joe Asher is no stranger to this sort of endeavor in NJ, either.
“Five years ago, we placed a bet on New Jersey when we invested in opening a sports bar at Monmouth Park without knowing when sports betting would be legalized. Today, we are proud to continue to double down on that commitment by partnering with the Devils and the arena.”
This deal is a bit broader in scope than the ones before it.
William Hill will have an aggressive branding presence inside the arena, including dasherboard and other signage visible on television. The company is also sponsoring the first line change each period. During intermissions, the arena’s huge scoreboard will display updated betting odds from William Hill.
The branding is, of course, aimed at getting folks to bet with William Hill. And thanks to online/mobile betting in New Jersey, fans can do that without leaving their seats.
The company deployed its statewide betting app just prior to the NHL season. While the on-site sports lounge won’t serve as a retail sportsbook, it will act as an activation tool for the online/mobile platform.
The daily fantasy sports industry knows the benefits that can come from this type of partnership. A number of DFS lounges popped up during a year-long marketing blitz, including a DraftKings space at Madison Square Garden. This, however, is the first in-arena lounge focused on outright gambling.
From the Devils’ standpoint, the alliance represents an opportunity to better engage with fans and bettors. Here’s CRO Adam Davis, who helped orchestrate the deal during a meeting in London:
“This is a trusted, international brand and sports book in the betting space that is making a move into New Jersey market with the goal of owning the market. There is no better way to connect to the sports fans in New Jersey than through the New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center.”
The Devils’ home game against the Nashville Predators on Thursday should reveal the first signs of the new partnership.
Perhaps no company has taken as aggressive an approach in the expanding market as William Hill. Though the growth of sports betting represents an objectively good business opportunity, NJ casinos have been somewhat timid compared to companies already active.
In fact, those two DFS sites provide the primary competition right now. DraftKings Sportsbook is the runaway market leader for online/mobile betting in NJ, while FanDuel Sportsbook at Meadowlands is setting the pace for retail operations.
While they grow upward from a single trunk, though, William Hill is branching outward.
It operates three of the nine retail sportsbooks in the state — Monmouth Park, Ocean Resort, and the newly opened Tropicana facility. The first two generated around $3.5 million in combined revenue during September, a significant chunk (~15 percent) of the market total.
William Hill operates in nearly every state with legal wagering, with points of entry into two more preparing for launch. That includes Delaware and Rhode Island, where deals with the state lotteries provide what amounts to a market monopoly.