Last year, the newly formed Vegas Golden Knights made history as the most successful expansion franchise in North American sports history, winning the Pacific Division crown en route to reaching the Stanley Cup final in their inaugural season.
The Knights didn’t wind up winning the Cup, but ahead of their second season on the ice, Las Vegas’ first professional sports team is still managing to make National Hockey League (NHL) history.
In a press release issued on September 18, the Vegas Golden Knights announced an historic marketing and branding partnership with William Hill U.S. – the American arm of U.K.-based sports betting industry leader William Hill.
In addition to advertising crossovers between the two entities, Golden Knights home games at T-Mobile Arena will feature William Hill signage and NHL betting odds posted on the big screen during intermission. And when the Golden Knights swap players out for fresh replacements, fans will be notified via LED ribbon board about the recent “William Hill Line Change.”
The move marks the first agreement between an NHL team and a sportsbook, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s repeal of a federal ban on the sports betting industry outside of Nevada.
That ruling was issued on May 14 of this year, and by late July, the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced its own sports betting deal with Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International.
Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, and West Virginia have since launched legal sportsbooks, while Pennsylvania has passed appropriate legislation and plans to launch later this year.
One of the most respected brands in European sports betting, William Hill was founded in 1934 as a traditional bookmaker. Telephone and online integration were eventually added, and in 2012, the parent company purchased three Nevada sportsbook operations to create William Hill U.S.
At the time, Joe Asher was installed as chief executive officer of the company’s American division, and he offered the following comments on the Golden Knights deal in the jointly issued statement:
“We could not be more excited to partner with the Golden Knights. We are headquartered in Las Vegas and have seen first-hand what this team has done for our community.
William Hill is the leader in the U.S sports betting market and we are proud of the fact that this is the first sponsorship agreement between a sports book and an NHL team in the country.
We appreciate the leadership of Bill Foley and his Golden Knights management team in bringing a winning franchise to Las Vegas and always working to make the in-game experience the best anywhere.”
Today, William Hill U.S. is the largest sportsbook operator in Nevada with 108 venues, as well as the state’s leading provider of online / mobile wagering.
William Hill U.S. isn’t limiting its focus on the Silver State either, after striking licensing deals with casino operators in New Jersey (via Monmouth Park) and West Virginia (via Penn National Gaming). The company’s sportsbooks accepted the first legal wagers in both states.
Kerry Bubolz, president of the Vegas Golden Knights, pointed to the company’s founding and history in Nevada while calling William Hill U.S. a perfect sports betting partner Sin City’s first pro sports team:
“We are always looking for innovative ways to engage different segments of our fan base and provide a unique fan experience.
Like the Vegas Golden Knights, William Hill US is a proud ‘Vegas Born’ organization.
This partnership between a major professional team and a sports book operator is a historic, landmark agreement and we are delighted to be leading the way with William Hill in this space.”
The team followed up with a second gaming-adjacent deal later this week, linking up with AGS, a slot machine and casino game manufacturer based in Las Vegas.