Weeks after the company’s mobile launch in Tennessee, DraftKings announced Thursday that it has come to terms on a multi-year agreement with the Nashville Predators.
Under the deal, DraftKings becomes the official sports betting operator and the official daily fantasy sports provider of the Predators. Per the agreement, DraftKings’ branding and content will be integrated throughout Bridgestone Arena including dasher boards and virtual signage visible on television for all regionally broadcast Predators games.
“After recently launching the DraftKings Sportsbook app in Tennessee, we are thrilled to continue our momentum in the state by announcing our latest team deal with the Nashville Predators,” DraftKings Chief Business Officer Ezra Kucharz said in a statement. “As a result of this collaboration, Predators fans will get the full DraftKings’ experience both on and off the ice as we look forward to the return of hockey season.”
Sports betting is now in #Smashville!
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) December 10, 2020
NHL scheduling uncertainty
As of Thursday morning, the exact start date of the NHL regular season remained unclear. Negotiations between the NHL and the NHL Players Association have progressed over the last week, with both sides targeting a Jan. 13 start to the season. The sides, according to ESPN.com, have cleared financial hurdles during recent negotiations, which presented a sticking point in early discussions.
Once an agreement is reached, the sides are eyeing either a 52-game or a 56-game schedule, ESPN.com reported. At a minimum, the plan will likely include a temporary divisional realignment to account for travel complications across the Canadian border amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Commissioner Gary Bettman has floated the idea of creating a temporary Canadian division for the season featuring the league’s seven teams from Canada.
“If everything stays the way it is, we’re probably going to have to have a Canadian division and realign in the U.S., and we’re trying to focus on dealing with all of those challenges,” Bettman said in an interview with The Maccabi USA Sports Show.
While the realignment plan could impact some teams considerably, the plan will have less of an effect on the Predators. Nashville competes in the Central Division, which has only one Canadian team – Winnipeg. Nearly half of the Pacific Division is comprised of teams from Canada with three clubs located north of the border, the Canucks, Flames, and Oilers.
Betting inside Bridgestone Arena
The NHL has yet to outline a definitive plan of COVID-19 protocols as it relates to fan attendance. If seating capacity is limited at Bridgestone Arena, the mobile sports betting handle at DraftKings and other apps could take a hit.
Say Canada and USA let the NHL have fans in attendance but the arena can be only 25-50% full. Would you go?
— Jaskaran☬ (@Jaskarancanucks) November 9, 2020
The Predators did not indicate in Thursday’s press release if the team intends to geofence the venue to provide DraftKings with an advantage over competing mobile sports betting apps. Technological advancements enable operators that partner with a professional sports club to gain a latency advantage over non-partnering sportsbooks in terms of speed and connectivity inside an arena. The advantage is critical for in-game sports betting purposes.
In connection with Thursday’s announcement, the Predators and DraftKings are offering a deposit bonus of up to $1,000 when signing up with DraftKings Sportsbook.
“As soon as the Tennessee Sports Gaming Act was passed in April , we immediately began our search for an experienced sports betting partner,” said Chris Junghans, EVP & Chief Revenue Officer, Nashville Predators. “With legal sports betting now live in Tennessee, we are thrilled to announce our formal relationship with industry-leading DraftKings.”
At DraftKings, the Predators have odds of 26/1 to win the 2021 Stanley Cup Championship. Four teams in the Western Conference, the Avalanche, Golden Knights, Blues, and Oilers, have lower odds to win the Cup.