Bill Daly was supposed to be in Ottawa today to appear in front of a Senate committee on the expansion of legalized sports betting in Canada. Fortunately for hockey fans, the NHL’s deputy commissioner was too busy with other stuff to make the trip.
The NHL did, however, release a statement on the proposed bill that would permit provinces to allow wagering on a single sports game. (Currently it’s only legal to bet on multiple games.)
“The bill jeopardizes the integrity of professional sports and the public’s trust and confidence in professional sports in North America,” the statement reads, as per CBC.ca.
“If single-game sports betting becomes a publicly fostered and sponsored institution, then the very nature of sports in North America (including the National Hockey League) will change, and we fear it will be changed for the worse.”
The NHL isn’t blind. It knows billions of dollars are already wagered illegally on single-game sports games. And it’s not like this bill would make it legal for street-corner bookies to take bets; it would all be provincially regulated.
It appears the league is concerned with optics as much as anything. The mere suggestion of impropriety could, in theory, be damaging to the NHL brand.
And in fairness, Canucks fans are paranoid enough without adding a potential gambling conspiracy to the equation.