PHF Strikes Deal With ESPN+ For Streaming, But Betting Doesn’t Seem Imminent

Written By Derek Helling on October 21, 2021

There’s a new PHF streaming deal, and it’s with a name familiar to many sports fans. Despite the availability of the entire 2021-22 Premier Hockey Federation season on ESPN+, fans in jurisdictions with legal sportsbooks shouldn’t expect to see lines on PHF events anytime soon.

Still, this is a step in the right direction for the federation toward that end. It might not be far beyond this nearest season that Canadian and US-based sportsbooks start offering odds on its events.

The details on the new PHF streaming deal

According to a release from the PHF, ESPN+ has exclusive rights in the United States to offer live broadcasts of the entire 2021-22 season. That includes 60 regular-season games plus the Isobel Cup playoffs.

The release says that broadcast details for Canadian audiences are still being determined. The federation does have a Canadian franchise, the Toronto Six. Each team will play 10 home and 10 road games on the season.

Two of the six franchises play their home games in places where sports betting remains illegal. Those are the 2021 champion Boston Pride and the Minnesota Whitecaps. Two others play in places where the legal options are quite limited.

In New York, only in-person wagering at commercial and tribal casinos is legal and available right now. The Buffalo Beauts play their home games in Williamsville. Although the state has legalized online wagering, the earliest it might go live is January.

Ontario only offers one legal online option right now; the ON Lottery‘s ProLine+. It is working on expanding the framework. There’s no firm timeline for when other operators might launch in the province. It’s too early to tell how that could affect the Six.

The other two teams; the Connecticut Whale and the Metropolitan Riveters; call places home where there are multiple legal online sportsbooks up and running. There’s far more variety in New Jersey, which offers 22 separate options compared to Connecticut’s three.

Thus, the Riveters and the Whale are the franchises best set up to take advantage of potential partnerships and see odds being offered on their games. That doesn’t mean such deals are imminent, though.

Will Connecticut, New Jersey sportsbooks offer PHF action?

At this time, PHF markets look like they’re still waiting for their shift. SugarHouse Sportsbook, the sports betting arm of the Connecticut Lottery, said in August that whether it offers action on PHF events will be up to regulators in the state. Also at that time, SugarHouse declined to comment on whether it had reached out to the Whale regarding any kind of sponsorship.

However, CT Dept. of Consumer Protection spokesperson Kaitlyn Krasselt said that as long as the events that CT sportsbooks want to offer action on aren’t non-tournament games involving a CT college team, sportsbooks in the Nutmeg State do not have to request permission prior to posting markets.

Thus, it seems that in CT, the three licensed operators (DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, and SugarHouse) have leeway to offer action on PHF/Whale events as soon as they feel comfortable doing so. In New Jersey, the PHF currently does not appear on the state’s Approved Events list.

However, operators there could request it. Such requests have a strong track record of approval from the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement. Resistance to sports betting from the Riveters doesn’t seem to be an issue. In fact, Riveters general manager Anya Packer said “sports betting will bring an incredible presence for women’s hockey” back in June.

It might only be a matter of time until we see such a presence, as legal sportsbooks continue to expand their content offerings. Getting the product onto an ESPN platform is a step in the right direction toward making that happen.

Photo by Mary Schwalm/Associated Press
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA and the managing editor of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of the gambling industry with business, the law, and technology.

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