Strange Bedfellows: NHL’s Golden Knights Partner With Tout Service, UPickTrade

Posted By Derek Helling on February 24, 2021

The Vegas Golden Knights stunned many in the sports betting industry Wednesday, and it had nothing to do with anything that transpired on the ice.

The team announced a partnership with UPickTrade, a Mexico-based tout service. Many NHL teams have been partnering with US sportsbooks in recent months as the legal sports betting industry in the states grows. But the marriage between a US-based pro sports team and a handicapping service is the first of its kind.

The details on the UpickTrade partnership with Vegas

A press release from the Golden Knights leads with the fact that this is the first cross-promotional deal between a Mexican company and an NHL club. Distracting readers from the substance of this deal might be the best public relations strategy.

“We are thrilled to partner with UpickTrade.com and become the first professional sports franchise to partner with a sports recommendation service,” said Golden Knights Vice President of Global Partnerships Mike Mungiello. “We are hopeful our fanbase will make UpickTrade.com a part of their sports pick betting process.”

The brand will get exposure on Vegas’ digital properties, plus in-game activations. So, if you attend a Golden Knights game soon, be prepared.

A Tweet on this deal also became interesting because of its redundant use of “recommendation” and “pick.”

The bottom line of this new sponsorship is that Vegas is encouraging fans to pay for sports betting picks. Also, to do so with this specific service. This move may be historic in terms of dealing with a Mexican company. It also could prove to be historically foolish when it comes to sports teams’ relationships with betting companies.

UPickTrade is now set to grow in exposure by leaps and bounds due to its deal with the NHL franchise. There’s no golden lining in this situation, however.

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Why this deal is super problematic for everyone but UpickTrade

The exposure to NHL fans is great for UPickTrade. If you’re anyone else in this situation, though, there’s more bad than good. Starting with bettors, it’s generally a poor strategy to pay for picks. That’s because doing so adds to the cost of your betting. Thus, you have to win more often, and win more money to cover your cost – much less make a profit.

Also, if a handicapper is truly sharp on hockey, that person likely isn’t selling their picks. They’ll likely want to keep what they see as a superior model to themselves. Also, there’s no guarantee that a person selling picks isn’t trying to manipulate a betting market one way so that he or she can make a contrarian play at better odds.

For the Golden Knights, it’s a poor optic. Questions that bettors and fans should never have to ask arise. That includes whether certain players or the entire team would throw a game if the “recommendation pick service” suggests betting against Vegas.

For the NHL, which already has deals with both DraftKings and PointsBet, it’s not a good look to have one of your franchises break the ice in this manner. The message sent out is that if you subscribe, you can improve your gambling odds. That’s a patently false notion. At the end of the days, the house still wins, no matter what tout service a bettor subscribes to.

For individuals with compulsive gambling issues, this kind of marketing is quite dangerous.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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