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NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman helped to pass the 1992 law that stifled legal sports betting in the United States. He later fought to keep the statute in the face of a court challenge from the state of New Jersey.
Years later, Bettman dons the last new accessories in his makeover from opponent to evangelist as a panelist at the gaming industry’s biggest conference next month.
Bettman will headline “Executive Viewpoints: NHL Commissioner Bettman and Leading Gaming Executives Discuss New Business” on October 16. The panel leads the Sports Betting Symposium agenda at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas.
The NHL became the first of the four major US professional sports league to locate a team in Las Vegas, breaking the city’s longstanding taboo. Bettman and the league awarded the expansion Vegas Golden Knights franchise in 2017.
The Supreme Court struck down PASPA in 2018, seismically shifting the US sports betting landscape. Once a defendant in the PASPA case, the NHL waited just five months after the law’s demise to sign a partnership deal with MGM Resorts.
Bettman clearly understood that questions about his longstanding opposition to legal sports betting would reappear. The commissioner did not shy from them at an American Gaming Association (AGA) conference in March, as reported by the Washington Post:
“Times have changed. The concerns we had at 10,000 feet had nothing to do with the integrity of the game. It had to do with atmospherics and the like, and the practical element as to how this was all going to work.
“Once the Supreme Court ruled, we got to get with the program. And frankly, as a practical matter, I owed it to our fans, I owed it to our clubs, to embrace the evolving world, whether it’s sports betting or changes in technology. In this day and age, you either evolve or become extinct.”
Bettman will take part alongside a trio of executives familiar to the industry:
“We are grateful for the opportunity to hear from Commissioner Bettman and leading industry executives during this momentous time for the sports and gaming industries,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller. “With so many new partnerships between leagues, teams and gaming entities, it will be invaluable to hear the insights of our converging industries represented on a single stage.”