What the FanDuel & NHL Partnership Tells Us About the Direction of Betting in US

fanduel nhl partnership

FanDuel & NHL Agreement – What Does it Mean for the Sports Betting in the United States?

Early this month, FanDuel and the National Hockey League entered into a partnership. The deal is for multiple years, and is a monumental step forward in the steady progress of legalized sports betting across the United States.

This landmark deal gives FanDuel exclusive partnership rights as the official sports betting partner of professional hockey. This is one a handful of joint ventures, which clearly indicate that the decision-makers in professional sports feel there are profound benefits to these partnerships.

From the First Partnership, Others Have Followed

One former boss for a major professional sports league forecast a woeful state of affairs related to how fantasy sports would adversely affect fan interest. As more evidence of how fantasy sports actually attracts more fans, sports management types across the board have had a 180 degree reversal from that opinion. Additionally, the online sports betting revenue numbers out of New Jersey have everyone excited.

Some might say the powerful top brass in the world of professional sports read the tea leaves on sports gambling correctly. While there was little clamor to make betting on sports legal, there were whispers that making it a federal crime were in essence, ineffective.

The feeling was that fans were going to find a way to make wagers on sports games, end of discussion. Now, the problem for the professional sports world was to somehow avoid the individual games from being compromised by a nationwide lifting of the illegal sports gambling laws.

While daily fantasy sports wasn't deemed the same as betting on a game's point spread margin, many hardliners claimed it was beyond any a reasonable doubt, gambling. Well, in a vast majority of the state legislative branches, elected officials seemed to feel the same way.

Consequently, DFS for cash prizes is legal in over 80% of the states. Over the last five years, interest has exploded. For that reason, there are now both league and individual team agreements between the two primary DFS players in the industry.

Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association both have both made exclusive agreements in clear support of DFS platforms being legal. In fact, the NBA is now an equity investor in FanDuel, with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver now on board with the idea of legal sports betting across the country.

But, Why Are These Deals Such a Big Deal?

As the number and frequency of joint partnerships between professional sports leagues with the tandem of industry leaders in DFS grows, why is this such a big deal? Well, for starters the movers and shakers in the highly lucrative business of sports business are people in-the-know.

Team owners and league administrators have amassed extraordinary wealth by following and acting on trends. One of those trends has been the constant cry of how maintaining that betting a few bucks on a sporting event is somehow a federal crime.

How much influence these financially well-off types influenced policymakers, is inconsequential. The bottom line is, betting on a game is no longer a federal crime. In addition, if you're within the state borders of New Jersey is 100% legal.

It's fairly clear, that over the last five or six years, many of top officials in professional sports had to see the writing on the wall. They knew that daily fantasy games being deemed "okay" seemed to strongly indicate that actual bets on game outcomes was soon to follow. It was.

Now, most of the reasoning behind some of these mutually beneficial deals becomes clearer. The reason they are big deal is probably two-fold. One, being in partnership with the primary venues where people gamble on sports games, provides these leagues with a far greater degree of control over potential problems.

It gives them an inherent layer of protection against corruption in the industry. Secondly, and maybe most importantly, these professional sports leagues are in the business of making money, and business has been good.

Reportedly, DFS alone has raised fan interest in live games nearly 50%. Live games mean live commercials, which equal expanded revenue opportunities. Yes, this may be hard for the old-school sports fan to digest.

However, professional sports have become big business, and big business makes big money. So, in essence, every deal between professional sports leagues and sites with DFS contests and sportsbooks is a huge deal looking forward.

What Are the Biggest Deals Thus Far?

Even though it wasn't immediately made public, Major League Baseball was the first professional sport to take a financial interest in daily fantasy sports. FanDuel has been engaged in a mutually beneficial partnership with more than a dozen NBA teams, beginning in 2015.

FanDuel's partnership agreement with the NHL also includes a specific arrangement with the New Jersey Devils. This could be a landmark direction because of the ties the Devils have with currently the only state to opt for legalized sports betting.

There are direct associations with business entities as well. DraftKings and FanDuel have entered into sponsorship arrangements with businesses to promote big prize contests. DraftKings is currently working jointly with Buffalo Wild Wings

Look for this trend to expand as more states follow the New Jersey lead. FanDuel is also promoting a new partnership arrangement for individual fans. You can earn commissions by becoming part of FanDuel's affiliate partner program.

A Look into the Future of Sports Betting

There are still widely-diverse opinions about how fantasy sports might affect fan game interest. However, there is little debate that actual sports betting will bring about a monumental boom in fan engagement. Some viewpoints feel fantasy sports adversely alter how fans watch games.

They assume since they have a financial interest in their fantasy lineup, this may change the way the cheer for their actual favorite team. There is some indication that fans frequently avoid outright bets on their favorite team, and conversely place wagers on games they feel more neutral about. Even when they do lay down a few dollars on their favorite squad, that bet is invariably going to be on the team whose colors they wear. As the number and brevity of these mutual partnerships grow, you can bet that is a clear indicator at the progress towards a unified nation on the topic of sports betting.

Odds are in favor of a bright future for sports betting, that seems obvious. The NHL and FanDuel partnership are another in a series of mutually beneficial agreements between these two industries. The primary reason is they both share a mutual interest in the sports fan. Daily fantasy games and sports betting were once thought to adversely affect fan interest. Now they are clearly viewed as a pipeline to fuel a growth in fan engagement.

Not to be outdone in the news world, DraftKings Sportsbook announced a physical sportsbook partnership with the Scarlet Pearl Casino in Mississippi.

  
Sam Shefrin is the founder of Lineups.com, Inc. Before Lineups, he started Daily Fantasy Cafe, Inc. in 2014. Armed with a passion for sports and every Atlanta team, his journey continues with the goal of making Lineups a premier sports analytics destination. He has been quoted on Forbes.com for industry insight and his websites featured on NBATV, Yahoo! Sports, Fantasy Pros, Bleacher Report and SB Nation.