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NHL Expansion Franchise In Seattle Partners With Tribal Casino

Those Involved Hope That Partnership Can Change Legal Landscape Of Gambling In Washington


A tribal casino in Washington struck a partnership with the NHL’s latest expansion franchise in Seattle.

Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn, located just 40 minutes south of Seattle, announced Wednesday that they would be the official casino of both the team and of KeyArena, where the team will have its games. According to the Seattle Times, the casino will sponsor all of the team’s power plays and have signage for the property all over the arena.

More importantly, the deal could push for legal sports betting in one of the states with the strictest anti-gambling laws in the nation. Sports betting and online gambling of any kind is illegal in Washington. Online gambling within the state’s borders is a Class C felony.

Conrad Granito, general manager of the casino, believes the partnership between NHL Seattle and the casino, could help sway public opinion, and eventually 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.”

According to the American Gaming Association, the NHL could generate revenue gains of $216 million annually from sports betting. That figure represents roughly a third of the league’s total revenue from television.

Legislators in the Evergreen State may slowly be changing their minds on the issue. Last February, a bill was introduced into the house that would legalize sports betting at both brick-and-mortar and online locations. The online aspect of the bill is particularly important since it would no longer make felons out of online gamblers.

The bill stalled before it could be put to a vote. Its sponsor, Majority Caucus Chair Eric Pettigrew (D), was recently hired by NHL Seattle as a community ambassador and director of suites operations.

Like Washington, the NHL was once vehemently against sports betting. Recently, the league has done a complete 180-degree flip on the issue. In October 2018, the league partnered with MGM Resorts. The partnership allowed MGM to access proprietary data to help oddsmakers make more accurate betting lines. In April, the league added another sports betting partnership with William Hill.

To complete the flip, Commissioner Gary Bettman headlined a panel at the Global Gaming Expo last month in Las Vegas. The panel discussed how gambling operators can work with professional sports leagues to create better businesses.

The franchise will play its inaugural season in the NHL in the 2021-22 season. It does not yet have a team name or mascot.