The partnership is not the first of its kind for the NHL, as the organization announced a comparable agreement with MGM Resorts International shortly before its FanDuel partnership.
The NHL’s strategy to cozy up with sports betting giants is a sharp turn away from its previous views on the gambling practice. Back in 2016, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman stated that hockey, “doesn’t lend itself to gambling” like other sports do.
It is clear that this is no longer the case. Bettman commented on the NHL’s FanDuel partnership, explaining, “Our approach to sports betting is to continue to be progressive as we work directly with the industry and focus on innovative opportunities for fan engagement. Teaming up with FanDuel furthers our strategy of aligning with leading brands that share our vision of using new platforms and technology to drive innovation and engage and excite hockey fans.”
Interestingly, however, the NHL continues to partner with DraftKings, the most prominent competitor of FanDuel, having linked with DraftKings back in 2014 and even holding an equity position in the business.
In response to the recent partnership between FanDuel and the NHL, DraftKings CBO Ezra Kucharz noted in an official statement, “We are constantly evaluating our relationships with leagues, teams and business partners to ensure DraftKings is well-positioned to further innovate our industry-leading daily fantasy sports product and continue our growth in sports betting and media. The National Hockey League has been a valued partner and we fully expect to work with them in other capacities in the future.”