Category Archives: NHL

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MGM GVC Interactive Partners With Sportradar on Sports Betting Data

Sportradar will be the exclusive provider of sports betting data to MGM GVC Interactive for the half-dozen leagues and federations for which it is the official provider: the NBA, the NFL, the NHL, NASCAR, FIFA, and UEFA. MGM Resorts partnered with U.K.-based betting platform GVC Holdings this summer on a joint venture in the U.S. Sportradar will provide pre-match and live betting services as well as bet stimulation content such as live match trackers.
MGM Resorts has been an active player in the U.S. market in preparation for further state-by-state legalization of sports betting. The global entertainment and gaming company was the first to partner with a major sports league on data rights when MGM became the official gaming partner of the NBA this summer. Since then, MGM has announced a similar deal with the NHL. MGM GVC Interactive was launched in July with $100 million of seed money from both companies.
“MGM and GVC are leaders in the sports betting landscape, and we are proud to be their provider for U.S. sports data,” Neale Deeley, Sportradar’s VP of gaming sales, said in a statement. “We have been preparing for the opening of the U.S. market for some time now with an across the board ramp up of our U.S. sports betting offering and we are delighted with this endorsement from MGM and GVC that all the hard work is delivering what world class betting operators are looking for.”
SportTechie Takeaway
When MGM and the NBA announced their partnership at the end of July, basketball commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged that the data feed to MGM might come via a third party. That Sportradar would be that supplier is little surprise, given the company’s existing work with the NBA, but this deal will enable MGM GVC Interactive to have access to fast, reliable data feeds in several other sports, too. The NBA and NHL deals include some of each respective league’s proprietary advanced tracking data, but Sportradar’s analysis and engagement tools will now be added to those the data feeds.


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NHL Will Own League-Wide Tracking Tech Set to Debut in 2019-20

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman affirmed that new, league-wide puck- and player-tracking systems will be ready for the 2019-2020 season and acknowledged, for the first time, that the NHL will have ownership of the technology.
The NHL initially commissioned development of the tracking technology to be used as a broadcast and fan engagement tool, with an early test at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. The Supreme Court decision that paved the way for legalization of sports betting has created an additional use for the system. This new advanced data source is the centerpiece of the NHL’s betting partnership with MGM Resorts.
“We will own the technology that we’re using,” Bettman said Monday, adding: “We’ve had to make some direct investments to get the type of technology we think we need and to make it work.”
David Lehanski, NHL senior vice president of business development and global partnerships, told Sports Business Journal in October 2017 that the league was speaking with one or two tech vendors. Bettman told reporters at the Board of Governors meetings last December that the league was “working with some technology companies” on the project. Those public comments made clear that the NHL was not developing the whole system internally, but the question of ownership had not previously been addressed.
League executives have indicated that there actually will be two discrete tracking technologies: one for the players and one for the pucks. A computer vision-based optical system will record player movements, and a sensor-based technology will monitor the puck. This proprietary tech will provide sports books, such as MGM, advanced data in real-time to help create prop bets and set lines. This is creating a new revenue stream for the NHL for an off-label use of a broadcast tool.
“It wasn’t designed for this—it’s applicable, but that wasn’t what our intention was,” Bettman said.

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Details, to date, have been scarce. When appearing at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference last February, Bettman identified the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany as having worked on a new puck. The commissioner said the research group had re-invented the physical compounds of the hockey puck to permit an embedded sensor while still behaving and moving like a traditional puck.
No other vendors have been explicitly linked, although there are likely candidates. Sportvision—now SMT—provides the league’s official real-time scoring system, HITS (Hockey Information & Tracking System), and participated in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. That system, however, relied on transmitters stitched into each jersey and infrared cameras to track the action. Omega provided a similar system for hockey at the 2018 Winter Olympics, but that also necessitated tracking chips. The NHL has said players will not wear sensors in the new system.
“While we’ve tested it in some forms at the World Cup, that was 16 games in two weeks in one arena,” Bettman said. “Having to scale this for 1,271 regular season games in 31 arenas is a little bit harder.”
Sportlogiq and Iceberg are among the other optical tracking systems that have worked with individual NHL teams, and PlayGineering Systems has worked with numerous teams, leagues, and tournaments overseas, including the Kontinental Hockey League. ChyronHego, STATS SportVU, and Second Spectrum are some of the leading systems in use for other sports. Kinexon and Zebra are prominent companies that make tracking sensors used in the NBA and NFL, respectively, and could conceivably contribute technology for the puck.
The above list is a roundup of leading tech companies who may have helped contribute a foundational piece for the NHL to invest and build on top of. Bettman declined to speak in specifics on Monday, and none of those vendors has publicly commented other than to offer a few generalities.
Sportlogiq cofounder and CEO Craig Buntin, for instance, said recently that the NHL’s plan is “one of the most forward-thinking, innovative, interesting approaches in any league I’ve seen so far. I really think that the insights these guys generate, based on the ideas they have so far, could really, really change the sport.”


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NHL Follows NBA in Adding MGM Resorts as Official Betting Partner

The NHL became the second major North American league to announce an official sports betting partner. As with the NBA, the NHL is teaming with MGM Resorts on a non-exclusive deal that includes official data.
MGM’s partnership with the NHL is wide-ranging and also includes designation as the league’s official resort destination, but the data component stands out as the most noteworthy component of the agreement. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said MGM will receive “access to advanced game data which is being developed as we speak,” referring to the league-wide tracking system scheduled to be installed for 2019-20 season.
“Data is the key,” said MGM Resorts chairman and CEO Jim Murren. “The more data a player has, the better. And that data has to be trusted. It has to be specific. It has to be endorsed. It has to be real-time. And we’ve seen the power of data outside the United States. You look at World Cup soccer, for example, in the UK or throughout Europe.”
Industry experts all believe the future of sports betting in the U.S. is on mobile devices, which facilitates in-play wagering. In New Jersey, for instance, mobile wagering is off to a fast start and had already eclipsed brick-and-mortar betting in the month of September. Such fast-paced oddsmaking requires the rapid, reliable dissemination of data.
“The stuff we’re creating, you can’t have and you can’t scrape in real-time,” Bettman said. “And you’re going to need it in real-time.”
When MGM and the NBA announced their deal in July, the two sides had not finalized what data would be included, but NBA commissioner Adam Silver indicated that “some” of the Second Spectrum tracking data eventually would be part of the arrangement, although not immediately.
The NHL will receive a set price from MGM as part of the deal that is not affixed to the amount wagered. The partnership is at the national level, and individual teams will still be free to form their own partnerships, such as the New Jersey Devils and Vegas Golden Knights have done recently with William Hill. MGM is part-owner of T-Mobile Arena, home of the Knights, and Murren is often credited for helping bring the NHL to Las Vegas.
While only MGM Resorts will be the official sports betting partner of the NHL, all sports books will be able to purchase access to the league’s data. Murren made a point of saying, “We do not support exclusive data. We want the data to be available to the world.” He added the public release of more data can help build “brand equity” of athletes by enhancing the connection with fans.
A Nielsen Sports report commissioned by the American Gaming Association recently predicated that the NHL could see an increase in $216 million of revenue via legalized sports betting, although Bettman downplayed that number.
“Based on our overall revenues, that’s not a be-all and end-all,” he said. “To the extent that it can create more fan connectivity, more fan engagement and even bring some new fans in, I think the impacts that we will see from sports betting are more indirect but all positive in that respect in terms of fan connectivity and fan-based growth.”
These unprecedented league-wide betting partnerships were made possible by the Supreme Court’s decision in May to strike down PASPA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which prohibited gambling on sports. Bettman had advocated for that law and, as recently as a 2012 deposition, said “the atmosphere that we want people to feel part of, is inconsistent with sports betting.”
Asked what changed, Bettman said with a chuckle, “the Supreme Court, obviously.”
“And I think many of you know this, I was integrally involved in the passage of PASPA 25 plus years ago, but the fact of the matter is the world has changed,” he added. “The way people consume sports has changed, and frankly, whatever views anybody had a year ago have been changed by the fact that the Supreme Court ruled on PASPA, and sports betting, subject to state enactment, has found a new road and a new life.”


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