Robitaille: Gambling revenue could affect NHL ticket prices

NHL

The National Hockey League and its teams have been quick to embrace legalized sports wagering in the U.S. after the Supreme Court ruled in May that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 was unconstitutional.

The league has partnered with MGM Resorts as its “official sports wagering partner,” and it announced on Monday that FanDuel is an “official sports betting partner of the league.” The New Jersey Devils have a sponsorship deal with FanDuel and two spaces that encourage wagering at Prudential Center branded by William Hill and Caesars. The Vegas Golden Knights also have a sponsorship deal with William Hill, as Nevada and New Jersey are currently the only states with NHL teams to have legalized sports betting.

Appearing on the ESPN ON ICE podcast, Los Angeles Kings president Luc Robitaille said there could be a windfall of revenue in the NHL if hockey wagering takes hold.

“If teams profit, then everybody will profit,” he said. “If you go by the numbers on the illegal part, it’s pretty significant. If that part ends up on the team side, I think it’s going help everyone. First of all, the [salary] cap will go up. Fans will be happy. Teams will spend more money on players. Players’ salaries will go up.”

But Robitaille believes that the revenue created around sports wagering — advertising, sponsorships and the like — could be so considerable that the savings might be passed on to the fans.

“You would think this would help with always putting the pressure on fans to keep paying … hockey is still a ticket business, primarily. Hopefully that helps offset some of the ticket pricing. I’m not sure about it, but it could if the money is significant enough. There’s a lot that could go around it,” he said.

“I’m not going to guarantee it’s going to bring down ticket prices, but it might hold the raise a little bit. If a team plans on raising ticket prices by 8 percent, they might only raise them by 5 or 4 percent. If there’s a lot more money at the table, it makes everybody’s life easier.”

The NHL’s annual revenue “may increase” by $216 million due to legalized sports wagering, according to a Nielsen Sports study commissioned by the American Gaming Association. That includes an estimated $65 million in revenue from sportsbooks’ advertising with the NHL.

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