- The National Hockey League (NHL) will allow logo advertising on player jerseys starting with the 2022-2023 seasons.
- Teams playing in jurisdictions in legal sports betting will be allowed to promote sportsbooks with their jersey ads.
- The NHL introduced helmet ads prior to the 2020-2021 season.
Although there are plenty of states like New York and Connecticut determined to kill the ‘golden goose’ of sports betting with greed and stupidity that shouldn’t detract from the reality that there are plenty of good things happening. States like Colorado and Wyoming are more concerned with starting a vibrant and competitive industry that will create ancillary economic benefits than they are milking sportsbooks with absurd taxes and licensing fees. The media is helping to push sports betting into the mainstream–while the overwhelming majority need to improve the quality of their sports betting coverage the significance of this can’t be overemphasized. Most importantly, perhaps, the sports leagues themselves have come to terms with the new reality and instead of fighting to put US sports bettors back in the dark ages are trying to find ways to monetize it–and to do so via legitimate methods and not with the nonsense such as ‘integrity fees’ that they once advocated.
With the possible exception of the PGA, the National Hockey League (NHL) has done the best job at adapting to the new reality. They’ve forged partnerships with sportsbooks worldwide even taking an equity stake in Australian based/US facing sportsbook PointsBet. They’ve allowed sports betting partnerships to be brokered by individual teams, including advertising on the ice and dasherboards at NHL rinks. Some stadiums–such as the PPG Arena in Pittsburgh–actually have retail sportsbooks on site. The biggest news, however, is that starting with the 2022-2023 season teams will be allowed to promote sportsbooks through helmet and jersey ads.
The helmet ads are nothing new–they began prior to the 2020-2021 season. Despite copious whining from self styled ‘purists’ they were insanely unobtrusive. That didn’t stop them from bringing in $100 million USD at a time when the league and member teams needed all the revenue they could get due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The process has started anew, this time with jersey advertising. No surprise that the whining and carping from scolds and ‘purists’ has started anew despite the fact that countless sports teams and leagues worldwide have had branding on their jersey for years. In European soccer, the brand on the jersey often becomes part of the team’s iconography. English Premier League side Liverpool, for example, has had UK banking concern Standard Chartered as their jersey sponsor for over a decade. This includes Liverpool’s Premiership championship season of 2019-2020 meaning that the Standard Chartered logo will become a part of the team’s lore for decades to come.
The NHL logos will be significantly less noticeable. They will be allowed on the upper chest (left or right) or the left or right shoulder. There will be one ad placement per jersey, at least for now. In other words, they’ll be something along the lines of the Adidas, Reebok or New Balance logos from the example above. Sports website Bleacher Nation took the whining of the ‘purists’ to task:
Yesterday, the NHL had approved teams to allow ads and sponsorships on their sweaters starting in the 2022-23 season. The outrage felt online from the announcement was everywhere. “Is nothing sacred anymore?!” “They are going to ruin the game!” “Don’t touch those jerseys!” All over my mentions.
Here’s the deal, by November of 2022, we’ll already be used to it, and I’m willing to bet more people will forget they ever cared.
Teams playing in jurisdiction with legal sports betting will be allowed to promote sportsbooks on their jerseys. As they’ve been reported the rules are a bit cumbersome–teams can display sportsbook branding on their sweaters unless they’re playing at a venue without legal sports betting. For example, the Colorado Avalanche could slap a ‘PointsBet’ logo on their jersey for all home games and road games in places like Las Vegas and Phoenix. Were they to travel to Texas for a game against the Dallas Stars, however, they’d have to cover up their PointsBet logo. This is pretty silly–like if the Nashville Predators were forced to omit references to Fifth Third Bank from their radio broadcasts in states where the bank doesn’t operate. You think that adults would understand that the Avalanche are promoting a business that operates in Colorado but might not operate in markets without NHL teams. That should take care of the issue entirely without teams having to go with some tape over a sportsbook logo for a game in Dallas.
I took a quick glance at the NHL team roster and within a year or so Texas and California might be the only states without some form of legal sports betting. California has made an effort to get something done but the state is such a dysfunctional bureaucratic mess that I don’t expect to see it anytime soon. Texas is run by right wing religious fundamentalist kooks so you know how that works. Assuming that all of the Canadian provinces have some form of single game sports betting sooner rather than later–and should the impossible happen and California work out an agreement on sports betting–Dallas could very quickly be the only NHL franchise where a sportsbook couldn’t be promoted.