Hockey Legend Wayne Gretzky Joins Sports Betting Giant Amid Legal Uncertainty
Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky has partnered with BetMGM as a brand ambassador for the American gambling corporation. In Canada, a Senate review of Bill C-128 means that the future of legal sports betting is not certain. Lawmakers will see the bill through to a final sitting before the summer break, although any delays could push the decision to the fall.
The Canadian former sports star joins the betting brand as part of the current “hockey and North American marketing efforts,” as stated by the New Jersey-based company. Although currently illegal in Canada, single-sports gambling is growing in popularity in the U.S. since a 2018 Supreme Court ruling ended a ban on sports betting, making it legal.
A similar decision in Canada could mean larger companies like BetMGM, Draftings, and FanDuel making their way north.
It’s still unclear what “The Great One’s” role as ambassador will be or how much the gambling organization will be putting in the star’s bank account. Gretzky’s statement on Wednesday said, "BetMGM is a terrific company and one at the forefront of the dynamic changes taking place in the sports business. I'm excited to be a part of the company's continued expansion into new states and territories and to help tell BetMGM's story."
BetMGM’s CRO, Matt Prevost, said of the NHL Hall of Famer: “Wayne is an exceptional talent who transcends the sports world, and we’re proud to welcome him to the BetMGM team. As we look toward potential expansion into Canada and elsewhere throughout the United States, Wayne will bring a unique ability to tell our brand story.”
Gretzky holds 61 NHL records with 2,857 points in his 21 seasons with Edmonton, Los Angeles, St. Louis and the New York Rangers. The star recently resigned as Vice-Chairperson for the Edmonton Oilers and accepted a role as a Turner Sports studio analyst.
The current review of Bill C-218 looks at amending Canada’s criminal code, permitting single-sports gambling. The bill has now passed the second reading and is before the Senate’s upper chamber’s banking committee.
The Senate's ruling on sports betting could mean increased revenue for online sports betting sites. After the legalization of single sports gambling, Canadians are expected to place $28 billion in bets in the first five years.
Before a final ruling, Senators will hear from experts in the field. The committee will weigh the benefits of gambling legalization against current black market practices of operation and the harm of potential gambling addictions. Tax revenue from sports gambling will also be considered.