New sports betting deal with MGM gives the NHL more control over wagers: League commissioner

  • NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, once an outspoken sports betting critic, says the league's new MGM partnership is a sign of the times.
  • A direct relationship with "MGM gives us the ability to have more control over the types of bets that are being placed and how the data is being used," he says.

The NHL's new deal with MGM Resorts International will give the league a say in fans' betting on hockey games and give the casino giant access to game data for wagers, league commissioner Gary Bettman told CNBC Monday.

"Having a direct relationship with an MGM gives us the ability to have more control over the types of bets that are being placed and how the data is being used, which is vitally important to us and we assume the players," he said on "Squawk Alley."

Bettman, who was once an outspoken critic of sports betting, said the data MGM would use for sports betting is now a part of the league's overall plan to enhance broadcasts to connect viewers with more on-screen game data. The NHL's action to enter the sports betting world is the league adjusting to the times, he said.

Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to greenlight sports betting across the country, the NHL had been in discussions with the NHL Players' Association about data and privacy concerns, Bettman said. Sharing data with MGM is "more a secondary usage that we didn't anticipate at the time we developed it, but we've been in discussions," he added.

From the agreement announced on Monday, MGM hopes to benefit by engaging fans in the live events space, said company executive Scott Butera, who appeared alongside the NHL commissioner.

"The end game is to develop a closer relationship globally with customers, whether they are hockey fans or not, so they can visit our resorts," Butera explained. "I think the whole direction of merging brick and mortar with the interactive space, whether it's in the content of sports or live entertainment, is going to be the future of MGM."

The MGM partnership is the NHL's first foray into the sports betting world since the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for the gambling activity in May.

MGM made a first mark in the emerging market by striking a deal with the NBA and WNBA in July.