Hockey betting degenerate Evander Kane has a gambling problem. Damning accusations were directed towards Evander Kane this past week by his wife, Anna, who claimed the San Jose Sharks forward has bet on and thrown his own hockey games.
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“How does the NHL let a compulsive gambling addict still play when he’s obviously throwing games to win money? Hmm maybe someone needs to address this,” she wrote in an Instagram post.
“Can someone ask (NHL commissioner) Gary Bettman how they let a player gamble on his own games? Bet and win with bookies on his own games?”
After her accusations circulated over social media, the NHL swiftly released a statement announcing that integrity is “paramount” to the league and that it was going to open an investigation into the matter.
With the NHL fully submerged into the world of sports betting, it’s easy to understand why the league reacted so quickly and preached the importance of integrity. The NHL has partnerships with a number of sportsbook operators.
Both of these objectives are mutually beneficial to the NHL. A 2018 poll from Seton Hall University stated that “70 percent of Americans say they would be more likely to watch a [sports] game they bet on,” while additionally noting that “88 percent of those aged 18-29, the coveted demographic loved by sponsors and hardest to reach, would be more likely to watch if they placed a bet.”
The equation is simple: Fans betting on the NHL and other sports equals more eyeballs on the games. That’s music to the ears of sports executives and television rights holders.
There is one other finding from the school’s poll, however, that shows just how fragile the relationship between raising and losing fan interest via sports betting is.
“Sixty-one percent say they believe that legal betting on sports events leads to cheating or the fixing of games,” the poll found.
And that leads us back to Kane. It’s important to make abundantly clear that none of the allegations made against him have been proven. But the NHL having to investigate one of its players due to the chance it’s true is certainly not great for optics.
It’s even more troubling when you review Kane’s past transgressions. In 2019, a suit was filed against him by the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas for over $500,000 in unpaid markers. The case was later dismissed by the hotel, however.
Given its strategic partnerships within the sports betting landscape, it’s clearly in the NHL’s hopes Kane is cleared of any wrongdoing. If the evidence does show that he is guilty, however, this an excellent opportunity for the NHL to set a no-tolerance precedent on match-throwing, regardless of the criticism that the league may face.
Wide-spread legalized sports betting is still in its infancy in North America. The NHL should be looking to resolve potential issues at this stage, and not allow them to be dismissed and grow into something bigger.
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