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By Raymond Rolak

LAS VEGAS— National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman kicked off the Sports Betting Symposium (SBS) program Wednesday, Oct. 16, at Global Gaming Expo (G2E) at the Sands Convention Expo. There were also discussions on sports and betting with industry leaders Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill U.S.; Greg Carlin, co-founder and CEO of Rush Street Gaming; and Matt King, CEO of FanDuel.

Las Vegas Gaming Conference Gary Bettman NHL Matt King Fanduel
Las Vegas Gaming Conference Gary Bettman NHL Matt King Fanduel - Photo courtesy of Las Vegas Gaming Conference

Bettman and Company expressed their viewpoints with keynotes, “Executive Viewpoints: NHL Commissioner and Leading Gaming Executives Discuss New Business Partnerships.” It was a multi-faceted presentation on the evolving sports-gaming relationship and the current and future value of new business partnerships.

“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 American Gaming Association 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.”

They talked about a number of topics including mobile sports betting, the need for 5G cellular service and future business partnerships.

In May 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 1992 federal law that banned sports betting in most states. That decision effectively made sports betting legal nationwide. Previously, Americans had bet an estimated $150 million collectively on professional and amateur sports. Since that legalization, the figure has jumped to $11 billion in bets.

“We had, before the Supreme Court ruled, put a team in Las Vegas,” Bettman said. “We were the first sports league to do that. We began to have a relationship, for other reasons, with MGM, and [their CEO] Jim Murren gets a lot of credit for smartening us up.”

Where is sports betting headed in the future? The answer may be mobile.

Asher also announced that William Hill has partnered with the Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. It will be the nation’s first major team pro sports facility to feature gambling, a sports betting parlor in 2020. The arena serves as the home for the Washington Capitals hockey team and Washington Wizards basketball team.

“These, I believe, are important partnerships as we collectively establish sports betting in the mainstream,” Bettman explained. “It’s a relatively new development that’s in its infancy. What we’re collectively working on is how do we engage our fans, potential bettors, and how together through marketplace relationships that demonstrate mutual respect. How do we do this in a way that makes sense and gives the consumer, whether a fan or a bettor, the confidence in what they’re doing?”

Moderator Contessa Brewer from CNBC noted that the NHL commissioner was originally against sports betting, but now he is very much in favor of it. She said he went from “duking it out to embracing it.” 

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