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Did the Vegas Golden Knights really just get into bed with an offshore sports betting tout? Apparently so.
On February 24, the Golden Knights announced a new partnership with UpickTrade.com, making the Mexican-based sports touting service an “Official Sports Pick Service Partner” of the team. It probably comes as no surprise that it marks the first sponsorship deal between an NHL team and a “sports betting recommendation service.” According to UpickTrade.com CEO Carlos Lazo Reyes, it is a first-of-its-kind sponsorship for any major professional sports franchise in the United States.
Many people in the business of sports and betting seemed very surprised and perhaps even dismayed by the announcement.
Is there really such a difference between partnering with a sports betting operator and a company that sells picks for people to consider using when transacting with those operators?
MGM Resorts became the first official sports betting partner of the NHL in October 2018. One month later, the NHL added a multi-year partnership with FanDuel to also be an official sports betting partner as well as the exclusive daily fantasy partner of the league. Then, in March 2019, the NHL added yet another sports betting partner in William Hill. To be clear, the league has no reservations about taking money from sports betting operators in exchange for their ability to use the intellectual property of the NHL and the right to call themselves official sports betting partners.
So why is it such a big deal that the Golden Knights have now associated with a company that simply provides information surrounding the sports betting activity that the NHL has impliedly, if not expressly, blessed by way of its myriad partnerships in the space? In fact, it should come as no surprise that it is the Golden Knights franchise to be the first to break ground in this sector since it was also the initial NHL team to broker a partnership with a sportsbook in William Hill.
The bottom line is that no one requires the general public to necessarily agree with the goods or services offered by every sports sponsor. However, it is clear that sports betting has become and will continue to be a major partner for professional sports teams and leagues, including those within the NHL. If sports betting is permissible and even promoted, then what is the big deal about a sports touting service getting the same treatment? Ultimately, it is up to the consumer to decide whether the service and its pricing are worthwhile.