It was always going to take a dose of creativity for Scott O'Neil and his team to build new partnerships for the New Jersey Devils.
But the newest deal — a partnership with partypoker.com — also benefited from good timing.
The state's launch of Internet gaming was only three months away when O'Neil took over as CEO of the franchise in August. When his team realized the new program "had a lot of momentum," it was only a question of finding the right operator to match.
The result after dozens of meetings and trips from "Vegas to AC to Europe" was a partnership between partypoker and the ownership group of the Devils, which acquired the NHL team in August and the Philadelphia 76ers in 2011.
And with Internet gaming, a platform that's available throughout New Jersey, O'Neil said it was an unexpected chance for a deal that would truly reach fans of both teams.
"It's a rare opportunity to kind of collar the state," he said. "And I think that's really what made this interesting."
O'Neil also noted the benefit for partypoker, which is seeking to build its brand here, of being introduced directly to fans of the franchises. For would-be customers, he said, the deal is a vote of confidence that playing is "safe and easy."
"We vetted them, we did our homework," he said. "There's nothing more important to us than our fans, so we had to be with the right company who treats people the right way and can connect with them in providing an experience. And I think that's the magic here."
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