New technology being implemented in the National Hockey League this year could lead to some new and interesting types of prop bets available for sports bettors.
According to a report from the Associated Press, the NHL decided to put small tubes in every puck used this season. Those tubes will connect the rubber puck to infrared cameras that will track both the player with the puck the puck itself.
The league tried something similar last year with microchips, but eventually pulled them from play just six games in after several complaints that the chips made the puck glide and feel differently. This year, the early feedback from coaches and players is on the opposite end of the spectrum and it appears that these will be in play for the rest of the season.
The league is hoping that the data gathered from tracking the puck throughout the game will help its teams advance strategies and help make scouting other teams more efficient.
But most hockey fans are just fans and won’t be using that data to help implement a more optimal game plan. For the casual fan that just enjoys watching the game, it will be just another data point that commentators can talk about, akin to MLB’s Statcast numbers.
But for the fans that like a little action on the game, it could allow sportsbooks to offer more entertaining prop bets.
“This is the type of wagering that is attractive to fans, so you’re going to see increased interest because these are wagers that can close more quickly,” director of research at University of Nevada Las Vegas’ International Gaming Institute Brett Abarbanel told the AP. “If I want to bet that the Vegas Knights are going to beat the San Jose Sharks, I have to wait until the end of the game. If I don’t want to wait, maybe I can bet on who skates the fastest in the first five minutes of the game.”
The new system could allow for endless amounts of prop bets such as how far the puck travels in a game, who has the hardest shot or how fast that shot is. In the past, these bets wouldn’t be offered because the data wouldn’t be readily available at the end of the game when a book would need to grade tickets.
In the past, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was steadfast in his stance against allowing betting on the league’s games. But now, just a couple years after he headed a panel at North America’s largest gaming expo, G2E, it appears that the league is embracing gambling and are even encouraging it.
“It’s exciting that this data is going to lead to in-play betting,” NHL vice president of technology Keith Horstman said to the AP.