“We just don’t want the proliferation of gambling on our sport”, an NFL official told me when Delaware was doing their best to implement sports betting. Now it appears that gambling is GOOD, as long as it a) is not at the expense of the NFL game and b) helps to fatten the wallets of owners. The news came this week that the NFL will allow teams to accept advertisements for casinos and other state-licensed gambling-related establishments during the next two seasons just to prove that greed and hypocrisy have no bounds.
“This all started in 2009 when the NFL got involved with state lotteries when the New England Patriots put their logo and name behind scratch-off lottery tickets. By the time the NFL season started nearly half of all NFL teams had signed up with lotteries. The scratch-off tickets have been very successful with annual sales for just about every team-themed game exceeding the 10 million dollar figure in sales. But you won’t find that kind of information anywhere on the NFL’s website. In fact, there are no articles relating to the state lottery/ NFL partnerships anywhere on the site.
Now the NFL has decided that sponsoring Lottery tickets isn’t enough, they also need to take casino advertising. Gambling ads and partnerships with gambling companies are good as long as their is no betting on the NFL product itself.
For the league which has fought long and hard to keep gambling on it’s sport just in Nevada, allowing casino ads wreaks of double standards. New Jersey is heading to the Supreme Court at some point in the next 12 months fighting to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) and permit sportsbetting in the Garden State. My best bet is that the NFL will launch a major offensive to thwart New Jersey’s effort. There will be fact and figures about how gambling impacts families, kids will want to bet on the games and so forth. And, as in the Delaware case, the state will bring up the Lottery partnership, and now can heap Casino gambling onto that pile.
Many of my friends and colleagues do not see why I am outraged by this latest gambling-meets-NFL development. It is because you are either pro-gambling or anti-gambling. It’s a pretty black-and-white issue. You can be pro-gambling if you profit from the activity, but don’t participate in it. But you can’t be anti-gambling if you are turning a profit from it. So which is the NFL – pro or anti gambling? The quote above holds the key, “on our sport”.
Maybe the U.S. gambling industry should just offer the NFL a cut of the action, like their Lottery partnership does. It is not a far reach to see that the NFL would allow betting on its sport as long as the league could generate revenue from it. After all, the NFL has shown that they are pro-gambling as long as there is profit attached to it. Maybe that is why the NFL is now aligning itself with casinos. The NFL may be envisioning team-themed sportsbooks in every city where an NFL franchise has taken root. Or instead maybe they are aware that PASPA is on shaky Constitutional grounds and a Supreme Court fight will be very costly. Right now The league does not get one dime from Las Vegas’ weekly handle on NFL games, but in a post-PASPA world conceivably there is revenue to be made.
Frankly, I can’t wait to go to the ‘Pack Room’ at the Oneida Casino in Green Bay to bet on the storied NFL franchise or attend the ‘Lion’s Den’ at the Greektown Casino in downtown Detroit. It’s the next logical step if the NFL continues to look for ways to ‘partner’ with gambling companies.