When the Vegas Golden Knights announced they were partnering with Mexican sports betting pick service UpickTrade, it didn’t take long for social media to roundly criticize the deal. Within a matter of days, the NHL franchise took that criticism to heart, ending the relationship before it ever really began.
On Saturday afternoon, the Golden Knights released a statement announcing the end of the sponsorship deal, offering no details on why they came to that decision.
Golden Knights quiet about deal’s details
The Knights initially announced the multi-year partnership with UpickTrade.com last Wednesday. Under the terms of the deal, Upick would become the team’s Official Sports Pick Service Provider and would gain featured advertising at T-Mobile Arena, and on the team’s website and social media platforms.
“We are hopeful our fanbase will make UpickTrade.com a part of their sports pick betting process,” Golden Knights vice president of global partnership Mike Mungiello said at the time.
As someone that worked for such a service, I'm trying to imagine the marketing pitch meeting.
Also imagining, with dread, the phone calls to the office after VGK loses a game they were picked to win.
Love me some VGK….but this is a bad, BAD, idea.
— Keith Fridrich 🎾🏀🏆 (@KeithFridrich) February 24, 2021
The deal immediately raised questions from observers in the sports betting world. Not only were many stunned that a professional sports team would partner with a tout service – never considered the most reputable sector of the sports betting industry – but it also seemed odd that it would choose to do so with one based in Mexico, rather than one of the many such companies operating directly out of Las Vegas.
Within a day, there were signs of trouble for the deal. UpickTrade.com initially displayed the Golden Knights logo on its website, but had removed it by Thursday. The team also refused to discuss the deal, referring only to its press release.
Tout services have shady reputation among sports bettors
Critics raised concerns over just how much information the tout service would have about the Golden Knights – including inside information on injuries or lineups – and whether it would offer picks on the team’s games. Users swamped the team’s Twitter feed with criticism of the deal in response to the announcement.
“At first I thought it was a joke. Then I read the Kinghts’ press release. And I still wasn’t sure because it just seemed so outlandish,” USBookmaking sportsbook director Robert Walker told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “My first thought was someone from the Vegas Knights is going to get canned, and my next thought was, ‘Did the NHL approve of this?’ All of it is beyond shocking to me.”
On Saturday, the Golden Knights backed out of the deal as quietly as possible.
“The Vegas Golden Knights have ended their sponsorship agreement with UpickTrade,” the team said in a statement. “The organization will not have additional comments on the matter at this time.”
Tout services have offered sports betting picks to bettors for decades. But over the years, critics have accused these businesses of lying about success rates, selling picks on both sides of games to ensure they create some winning clients, and other tricks designed to create the illusion of value for their services.