Las Vegas Golden Knights and William Hill Sign Partnership
The Las Vegas Golden Knights and William Hill US signed a first-ever partnership for an NHL hockey team and a bookmaker. The Golden Knights signed a multiyear partnership with William Hill USA, which operates 108 of the 128 sportsbooks in Nevada.
The two sides did not reveal terms of the deal, but they did say it was a multiyear contract and it is non-exclusive.
The deal allows William Hill to advertise its product at Las Vegas Golden Knight matches, which had not been the case with previous Golden Knights casino deals.
In its inaugural season, four Las Vegas Strip casinos or casino companies served as sponsors of the Golden Knights: Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts, and The Cosmopolitan Hotel & Casino. None of those companies could advertise or promote their sportsbooks, because of a longstanding policy against associating sports betting with American sports franchises.
William Hill and Golden Knights Press Release
The press release the Golden Knights and William Hill jointly published described how the deal would work, including a “William Hill Line Change” on the LED board anytime a line change happens — which is often in a hockey match. The release said, “William Hill US and the Golden Knights will collaborate on engaging with fans of legal betting age through various media, advertising and promotional platforms.”
“The partnership will feature a TV visible dasherboard, in-arena signage, updated league-wide odds displayed on the in-arena Knight Tron during intermission, an away game watch party, and recognition on the LED ribbon board of the ‘William Hill Line Change‘ when the Golden Knights make a line change during the game.”
The deal is a preview of the kind of corporate sponsorships US sports franchises can expect in the coming years. Sportsbook-related sponsorships could boost a franchise’s revenues by millions of dollars, while the sportsbooks could not find a better place to advertise.
New Jersey Devils Expect $5 Million Boost
Sports leagues expect to benefit from the more permissive gaming environment in indirect ways, too. The New Jersey Devils last week said they expected legal New Jersey sports betting to boost their revenues by $5 million in this coming seasons — and that is without any casino/sportsbook partnerships.
Legal sports betting at Atlantic City casinos and New Jersey racetracks increases interest in Devils’ hockey matches. More fans pay to watch the game live, while Devils’ broadcasts attract bigger television, radio, and Internet audiences. Add everything together and you get boosted revenues for the francise.
NHL Hockey Sponsored by Sportsbooks
The same could be said for other NHL franchises, though the benefits accrue most to teams in states with legal sports betting. The Las Vegas Golden Knights should have boosted revenues for similar reasons, while the Washington Capitals might have boosted revenues from their proximity to Delaware’s sportsbooks. (Also, Washington D.C. might have legal sports betting soon.)
For the rest of the U.S.-based NHL franchises, the revenue boost might not be the same, because they do not live in markets with legal sports betting. Those may come soon enough, though. Eilers & Krejcik predicts as many as 30 U.S. states might have legal sports betting within the next 5 to 7 years.
Kerry Bubolz Praises “Vegas Born” William Hill US
Kerry Bubolz, Golden Knights president, said of the deal with William Hill USA, “We are always looking for innovative ways to engage different segments our fan base and provide a unique fan experience. Like the Vegas Golden Knights, William Hill US is a proud ‘Vegas Born’ organization.”
“This partnership between a major professional team and a sports book operator is a historic, landmark agreement and we are delighted to be leading the way with William Hill in this space.”
William Hill Profile
William Hill US is the American division of the famous UK bookmaker, William Hill. The company was founded in the 1930s by William Hill, who served in the infamous Black and Tans during the Irish War of Independence (1919-1922) and ran illegal lotteries in the 1930s and 1940s. By the 1950s, the William Hill bookmaker was a legitimate sportsbook operation and gained steady respect in the British culture.
Beginning in 1971, William Hill has changed hands several times (Sears Holdings, Grand Metropolitan, Brent Walker, Nomura, Cinven/CVC Capital Partners), but remains one of the most prominent British bookmaker businesses. In 2002, the company was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was in the FTSE 100 until 2005.
The company also launched online operations, though in the early years the William Hill online brand had struggles. By 2008, William Hill Online went into partnership with Orbis and Playtech, with Playtech founder Teddy Sagi becoming a major shareholder. Playtech now owns 29% of William Hill’s online business. William Hill’s UK business is under stress, due to the 15% Point-of-Consumption Tax in online gaming and the reduction of the FOBT max bet from £100 to £2 which is coming in 2019.
William Hill’s US Investment
William Hill US is expected to offset whatever losses might come in the UK market. The American version of William Hill has been an unqualified success. In the Nevada gaming market, William Hill US operates several major sportsbooks in Las Vegas, along with betting shops throughout the state.
In the New Jersey gaming market, a proposed land-based sportsbook by William Hill and Monmouth Park is what touched-off the lawsuit by the major US sports associations in October 2014. That lawsuit wound its way through the American federal court system until May 14, 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 25-year old federal ban on single-game sports betting in 49 states.
William Hill thus had a direct hand in opening legal sports betting in the United States. Alongside New Jersey partners Monmouth Park in Oceanport and the Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City, William Hill now has a major stake in the New Jersey sports betting industry.