$1.1 Million Lawsuit Filed By NHL Alumni Association Against PointsBet Canada

This action follows PointsBet Canada's decision to end its sponsorship agreement with the NHL Alumni Association

Apr 19, 2024 • 20:40 ET • 4 min read
NHL Alumni
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

PointsBet Canada, one of the country’s top online sportsbooks, is being sued for $1.1 million in a lawsuit filed by the NHL Alumni Association. 

This action follows PointsBet Canada's decision to end its sponsorship agreement with the NHL Alumni Association due to the Ontario government declaring that sports betting companies, like PointsBet, could only feature active and retired athletes to specifically promote responsible gambling.

Following this August 2023 announcement, the NHL Alumni Association filed a lawsuit on January 18, 2024, at an Ontario Superior Court located in Toronto. The lawsuit states that PointsBet must continue paying for its sponsorship agreement until it ends on January 1, 2026, regardless of August’s marketing restrictions announced by the Ontario government.

Sponsorship agreement details

The NHL Alumni Association and PointsBet signed a multi-year sponsorship agreement in January 2022, which allowed PointsBet Canada to gain exclusive marketing rights in North America for retired NHL players. 

A contract extension was subsequently signed by both parties in March 2023, which included PointsBet Canada paying an annual licensing fee of $160,000. The NHL Alumni Association is claiming that this fee was set to increase to $170,000 prior to the online sportsbook operator ending its sponsorship agreement. This included contributing money to a fund to pay players for participation in PointsBet Canada’s marketing advertisements, going from $275,000 in 2022 down to $150,000 for the remainder of the agreement. 

Now, the NHL Alumni Association is claiming in its lawsuit that current and retired athletes are still allowed to be used in gambling companies' campaigns to promote responsible gaming practices. Recently, Connor McDavid was featured in a BetMGM ad that promoted the online sportsbook’s responsible gaming tools. 

NHL Alumni Association President Glenn Healy received a letter from PointsBet Canada in November 2023, in which the online sportsbook operator announced its decision to terminate the sponsorship agreement. These new safe gaming marketing ad regulations went into effect on February 28, 2024.

Point of contention

Now, following PointsBet Canada’s termination of the previous multi-year sponsorship agreement, the NHL Alumni Association’s lawsuit focuses on their contract binding, as long as PointsBet holds a regulated operator license in Canada or the United States. This follows PointsBet Canada defending their decision with a statement on March 22, 2024. The online sportsbook operator stated, “The essence of the agreement was that PointsBet was paying for retired players to drive PointsBet’s gaming business by actively participating in the advertising and marketing of PointsBet’s brands.”

Following the tightened regulations made by Ontario’s governing body surrounding safe gaming marketing advertisements, announced in August 2023 and made official on February 28, 2024, PointsBet Canada is arguing that the use of current and retired NHL athletes without specifically focusing on responsible gaming practices cannot be sustained. Now, it argues, using retired NHL players is vastly different than what both parties agreed to before signing the sponsorship agreement. 

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