A tribal casino in Washington has formed a partnership in Seattle with the latest expansion franchise of the NHL.
Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn, just 40 minutes south of Seattle, revealed on Wednesday that they would be both the team’s and KeyArena’s official casino, where the team will have their games. According to the Seattle Times, all the power plays of the team will be funded by the casino and the assets will be signed throughout the arena.
More specifically, the proposal could move one of the states with the nation’s most strict anti-gambling legislation toward legal sports betting. Sports betting and any kind of online gambling in Washington are illegal. Online gambling within the boundaries of the state is a felony of class C.
Conrad Granito, the casino’s general manager, believes NHL Seattle’s partnership with the casino could help sway public opinion, and ultimately lawmakers.
“I think the partnership is one where you see a lot of tribes and gaming entities have partnerships either directly with teams or directly with leagues. So, I think that tie-in just becomes natural as we move forward with this,” Granito told the Seattle Times. “So clearly, with the NHL, our relationship just helps solidify that, and our position within the sports-betting network that we project is going to be here in Washington.”
The NHL could generate annual revenue gains of $216 million from sports betting, according to the American Gaming Association. That figure represents approximately one-third of the total television revenue of the league.
Evergreen State lawmakers could gradually change their minds on the subject. A bill that would allow sports betting at both brick-and-mortar and online platforms was introduced in the house last February. The online aspect of the bill is especially important because online gamblers would no longer make felons.
Before it could be put to vote, the bill stalled. NHL Seattle recently hired its sponsor, Majority Caucus Chair Eric Pettigrew (D), as a community ambassador and operations director of suites.
The NHL was once vehemently opposed to sports betting, like Washington. The league has recently made a complete 180-degree flip on the subject. Having partnered with MGM Resorts in October 2018, it enabled MGM to access proprietary data to assist oddsmakers in making betting lines more accurate. The league launched another partnership with William Hill for sports betting in April.
To finish the turn, last month in Las Vegas, Commissioner Gary Bettman chaired a panel at the Global Gaming Expo. The panel addressed how to create better companies through betting operators partnering with professional sports leagues.
In the 2021-22 season, the club will play its inaugural season at the NHL. It still has no title for a squad or mascot.