NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says he's not worried about legal gambling affecting the integrity of games.
Bettman joined the Brady & Walker show on Toronto's Sportsnet 590 on Friday and discussed his stance on the matter of legalized betting. It's an issue NBA commissioner Adam Silver has outspokenly supported and discussed with commissioners of the other major North American leagues.
Bettman was asked "whether he sees a relationship between the NHL and legalized gambling" in the future. The duality presented dealt with whether it would simply mean finding the right approach to executing it, or if there was a fear concerning the integrity of the game and potential 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."
The commissioner added that he felt other sports more popular with gamblers had more at stake in the situation. He noted that hockey's relative lack of scoring makes the game inherently less attractive to those looking to place bets.
"I think if I'm football and basketball I'm looking at it differently, because most of the betting takes place on those games," Bettman said. "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 also pointed out that the bigger concern could be the impact that gambling in immediate proximity to arenas would have on atmosphere and fan culture, particularly among younger fans who play sports.
"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," he said. "We don't want there to be another agenda."
- Jeremy Woo