National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman joined Brady & Walker Friday to discuss several items related to all things hockey, including his stance on legalized gambling.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has publicly declared his support for legalizing sports betting. Silver has discussed the issue with commissioners of the other major North American sports leagues, but thus far they’re not all on the same page.
Bettman was asked if he sees a relationship between the NHL and legalized gambling down the road, whether it’s just a matter of finding the right way to do it or whether there’s a fear that the integrity of the game would be at risk.
“I don’t worry about the integrity of the game,” Bettman said. “Our players are professionals. Their integrity, their values are right on, so that’s not the issue from our standpoint.
“I think if I’m football and basketball I’m looking at it differently, because most of the betting takes place on those games. Relatively, a very small percentage of betting takes place on hockey and even baseball because of the nature of the game and the scoring.”
Bettman believes the discussion should centre around what impact gambling would have on the atmosphere in and aroud the arenas where games are played and what message it sends to younger fans who are participating in sports.
“I’m not a prude on the subject, but if people are running off thinking that they’re going to make lots and lots of money off of this then that may be another sports’ agenda but it’s not ours.
“You don’t want people rooting for anything other than the team that they love and the players that they think the world of to win. We don’t want there to be another agenda.”
Bettman stressed that the relationship between the NHL and gambling might not be as compatible as in other sports because of scoring.
“Our lines aren’t like they are in football and basketball and again, the amount that’s bet on our game isn’t the issue. It’s really a broader agenda for the sports that have much more involvement with gambling.”