Los Angeles Kings president Luc Robitaille has suggested that the NHL’s gambling revenue could lower ticket prices or at least prevent any hikes.
The North American ice hockey league has recently seen an influx of deals with MGM Resorts International to become an official sports betting partner, and a partnership with FanDuel to become the “exclusive official daily fantasy partner and an official sports betting partner of the NHL.”
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has openly discussed what he sees as the dangers of legal sports betting and its potential to ruin sports throughout his 25 years in charge.
However, Robitaille said on Wednesday during an appearance on ESPN’s On Ice podcast: “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 eight per cent, they might only raise them by four or five per cent. If there’s a lot more money at the table, it makes everybody’s life easier.”
Robitaille acknowledged that the NHL’s primary income is tickets/gate receipts, rather than TV deals like many other major sports leagues in North America.
He continued: “You would think (new sources of revenue through legal sports betting) 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.”
An American Gaming Association study commissioned by Nielsen Sports projects found that the NHL stands to earn $216m through sports betting, through media rights, sponsorship, merchandise and ticket sales.
“If teams profit, then everybody will profit,” Robitaille 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.”
During the 2017 NHL season, ticket prices ranged from $317 for the likes of a Toronto Maple Leafs home game, to $94 for the San Jose Sharks.
Image: Kaz Andrew