BetMGM Deal Makes Oilers Star Connor McDavid First Active Athlete To Sign With Sportsbook

Written By Katarina Vojvodic on March 4, 2022 - Last Updated on March 8, 2024
Connor McDavid BetMGM Sportsbook Canada

BetMGM announced big news Friday, as another barrier was broken in the relationship between sports and betting.

The sports betting and iGaming giant revealed a partnership with the National Hockey League’s reigning MVP Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers as its newest brand ambassador.

The deal makes McDavid the first active professional player from the four major sports to partner with a sportsbook. It’s another about-face for a league that was among the most vocal in crying foul over legalized sports betting a decade ago.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told PlayNY:

“We have negotiated extensively with the NHLPA over how, and on what terms, we can and will permit these types of relationships. We are very comfortable that we ultimately were able to strike the right balance, and that we incorporated appropriate and sufficient safeguards to ensure the integrity of our competition.”

The deal was announced exactly one month before Canada’s largest province introduces an expanded online sports betting marketplace in Ontario. BetMGM Sportsbook is expected to be a major player in Ontario and other provinces as the nation continues to legalize and accept sports betting.

McDavid stars for Oilers, while new teammate has checkered past

The biggest hockey star today, McDavid will be featured in BetMGM’s upcoming marketing campaigns, social media content and fan events.

“I am very excited to partner with BetMGM as they continue to shape the future of sports betting,” McDavid said, in a release. “It’s also a real honour to be on the same BetMGM team with star athletes like Wayne Gretzky and Kevin Garnett, both of whom I admire very much.”

McDavid burst onto the NHL scene in 2016 becoming the league’s youngest-ever captain at 19 years old. It’s reminiscent of the start of Gretzky’s career, which also started in Edmonton. Similarly, fans wonder if McDavid could one day follow The Great One’s lead away from Edmonton to a larger market.

McDavid is now in his seventh season with the Oilers. He is a two-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner as the league’s most valuable player. McDavid also took home the Art Ross Trophy three times as the NHL’s point leader.

Entering Friday’s games, McDavid led the NHL again with 79 points, one ahead of teammate Leon Draisaitl.

Meanwhile, one of McDavid’s new teammates could be a reason for pause for the NHL.

Evander Kane has acknowledged having a gambling addiction but has denied that he bet on or influenced NHL games. Kane’s ex-wife alleged the Kane gambled on and tried to throw games when he played for the San Jose Sharks. The NHL investigated her claims but could not find any evidence to substantiate them.

Gretzky, McDavid, who’s next for BetMGM?

BetMGM shares McDavid’s enthusiasm of having him on board.

“The accomplishments that Connor has already earned on the ice is astonishing and we are excited to welcome him to the BetMGM family,” said BetMGM’s chief revenue officer Matt Prevost in a company release.

“We look forward to working together to engage BetMGM players across North America.”

BetMGM is currently available in 21 markets and is planning to enter Ontario on April 4. That’s the date expanded gambling market will open in the province.

The McDavid deal comes one month after Toronto Maple Leafs’ captain Auston Matthews signed a 3-year endorsement deal with Bet99. With that deal, however, Matthews only promotes Bet99’s free-to-play site.

With the impending expansion of the Ontario online gambling scene, you can bet more top athletes will make similar deals. We can’t wait to see who’s next.

Photo by Karl B DeBlaker / Associated Press
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Katarina Vojvodic

Katarina is a Toronto-based online gambling writer who holds a master's degree in journalism. Before joining PlayCanada, she was part of the AskGamblers crew where she reported about the world of online casinos and interviewed numerous iGaming experts. Being in the industry for 5 years, she became an expert in online slots.

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