What The NFL Thinks About Legal Sports Betting

Change is coming to professional sports in America and it is coming in the way of legal sports betting. This will be good news for the NFL, and this is what the NFL thinks about legal sports betting in America. With the GAME Act picking up steam in Congress and the Supreme Court set to hear New Jersey’s constitutional challenge against the bet-banning Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA, 1992), domestic legal sports betting seems more a question of “when” rather than “if.” The NFL’s opinion on sports betting stands at the other end of the spectrum.

And that makes a lot of sense. It seems unlikely that the government is too pleased about the roughly $550 billion that US residents spend overseas on “illegal” sports betting each year. The fact that there’s so much activity in direct defiance of laws that try to prevent it is a bad look for Uncle Sam. The fact that the greedy bastard is missing out on half a trillion dollars of taxable annual income is even more emasculating. It’s just plain stupid, really. I mean, Americans spend almost $100 billion betting on the Super Bowl, for goodness’ sake. Speaking of which, as the poster-league for gambling action, it’s worthwhile to ask:

Does The NFL Support Legal Sports Betting?

Not really. As momentum builds for the federal government to finally allow legal sports betting in the United States, three of the country’s four major sports leagues seem to support the movement to varying degrees. Unsurprisingly, the only league to remain vocally opposed to the idea is the National Football League and its curmudgeonly, disingenuous commissioner, the one and only (we hope) Roger Goodell.

Why doesn’t Roger Goodell Support Legal Sports Betting?

Because he takes his position as commissioner of the No Fun League very seriously.

If sports betting is legalized, Roger Goodell runs the risk of opening up his arbitrary governance to federal and state oversight. He will lose the ability to wield the power to which he is accustomed, tanking teams’ entire seasons on a whim and generally being a bastard. Heavily regulated sports gambling and petty, vindictive commissioners don’t really get along.

Why Don’t The NFL Owners Support Legal Sports Betting

Of course, Roger Goodell is not the entire NFL, and he certainly doesn’t represent the private thoughts of all the owners under his rule. If said owners got behind the legalization of sports betting, the commissioner would probably go along with them. But the owners aren’t openly touting the merits of legal sports betting either. We can only guess as to why, but it might have something to do with the sport’s current domination of the public market- and mind-shares. The NFL is far more popular than its domestic competitors, and with Major League Baseball talking about gambling in the context of “sponsorships,” it’s entirely plausible that the football business doesn’t want anyone else soaking up the public’s money – money that would otherwise go to the bloated NFL coffers.

There’s also the issue of saturation – Would legal sports betting prompt lots of folks to spend their earmarked funds in the early part of the year on events and sports like the NBA Playoffs, the NCAA’s March Madness, and the MLB season? These are all probably concerns to the NFL, but logic dictates that – as Americans already spend an astronomical amount of money on overseas sports betting – the status quo of the NFL’s market presence isn’t likely to suffer. And many analysts further opine that though the NFL will never publicly support sports betting, they believe the league will stop actively fighting the inevitable.

Why Did The NFL Move The Raiders To Las Vegas If They Are Against Legal Sports Betting?

That’s a good question, and there’s no answer other than “money.” The Las Vegas Raiders are scheduled to start play at their new home at the start of the 2020 season, by which time the NFL may have no choice in the legality of sports betting nationwide. Perhaps the league intends to use the Raiders relocation as a sort of preemptive test run, gauging the effects of a pervasive gambling environment on both its players and its product. Also, Oakland is a dump.

Legal Sports Betting Will Only Make The NFL Better

The freedom for people to spend their money as they wish is never a bad thing, and legal sports betting is poised to improve the NFL in a number of ways. Not only will easy access to sportsbooks and their various prop bets keep more folks glued to their TV screens even after their team is getting blown out by 28 in the third quarter, it’ll let folks cash in when they bet on said losing team to make an epic Super Bowl comeback and rip the heart out of an entire southern population center. Increased engagement naturally leads to increased revenue and increased advertiser support, too, so every party benefits.

Plus, there’s even an outside chance that the increased profits might lead the NFLPA to negotiate a better CBA, making the payout for the players better, too. The NFL, after all, is one of the most dangerous sports on the planet, and it takes considerable risk to play in the thing. Maybe not as much as betting on it, but considerable nevertheless. So maybe their marquee players should make a little bit more than, say, a bottom-third shortstop or a perpetually injured 11th man. The NFL’s opinion on sports betting is likely to change over time based on how much money they stand to make or lose.

Now if only we could get the NFL to quit throwing flags every time a 400-pound lineman tries to perform an end zone riverdance, we’d really be getting somewhere.