Casino Sponsorship and the NFL
Sonny Black | 03/15/19 | 1:26 PM EDT 0 Comments
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Among all the opponents lined up against sports betting, few were as committed or as hostile as the National Football League.

While all the professional leagues in the US were officially opposed to sports betting, the NFL was the most outspoken.
 
When the state of New Jersey embarked on its protracted legal battle to allow New Jersey residents to bet on sport, the NFL was one of the foremost opponents. Even when other organizations, such as the PGA and MLB, started to soften their stance on sports betting, the NFL remained adamant in opposition, and when the Supreme Court effectively struck down the 1992 PASPA Act last May, paving the way for a sports betting industry across the US, the NFL were critical of the decision. 
 
Their opposition to sports betting goes back a long way. In 1963, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle imposed an indefinite suspension on two NFL players – Paul Hornung and Alex Karras – who had been found to have been betting on games. Defending his decision in the media, Rozelle described gambling as the number one threat to the growing league, and that attitude remained.
 
Yet in the last few weeks, the NFL has made a move that could potentially lead to one of the biggest U-turns in sports history. At the beginning of 2019, the organization struck a deal with Caesars Entertainment Corporation, one of the biggest gambling companies in the world, to become its first ever official casino sponsor – an arrangement timed to coincide with the 2019 NFL playoffs.
 
Now, casino players who head online to use their Chumba Casino free slots bonuses or look for their favorite casino games may come across NFL branding or links to NFL teams. The deal gives Caesars the right to use NFL logos and trademarks on both sides of the Atlantic, and Caesars casino properties have been busy incorporating NFL themes all over the US.
 
Has the NFL completely reversed its opposition to sports betting? Not yet. While the $30m per year deal with Caesars is a clear signal that the negative attitude towards all forms of gambling may have changed, it also includes strict rules to prevent any crossover to sports gambling, which currently is mainly conducted through land-based casinos.
 
As part of the sponsorship arrangement, Caesars is not allowed to use NFL logos or trademarks in any fantasy sport or sports betting contexts, which includes the prohibition of the use of NFL branding in any casino venue that also offers sports betting. However, when questioned on the arrangement, the senior vice president of the NFL, Renie Anderson, did not offer the familiar NFL position, instead suggesting that the organization had not yet made up its mind about legal sports betting:
 
“We’re not rushing into anything. We’ll continue to look at the industry as it evolves but it still has a lot of evolving to do.”
 
This isn’t quite the strident opposition that we are used to hearing from the NFL, and one of the reasons for their potential change of heart could be the huge financial windfall that they could enjoy if they went all-in and agreed a link-up with the fledgling sports betting industry. According to a report by the American Gaming Association, a partnership between the NFL and a sports betting company could produce annual revenue for the league of over $2.3bn. To put that figure in context, in the 2016-17 season, NFL sponsorship revenue was reported to be at the $1.25bn mark.
 
The NFL move, which could pave the way for an eventual sports betting deal, has been replicated by several individual franchises. The New York Jets, based in the sports betting hotbed of New Jersey, have struck their own deal with MGM, while Caesars has also made sponsorship arrangements with the Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles, along with the Las Vegas-bound Raiders.
 
As sports betting spreads across the US, there will likely be a tipping point at which continuing their official opposition to the practice will become absurd. As millions of NFL fans bet on the games, sports broadcasters provide link-ups and stats for sports betting fans, and other professional leagues get into bed with sports betting companies, at some point it will surely become untenable, not to mention unprofitable, for the NHL to continue its traditional hostility to sports betting.
In this Article: NFL | SPORTS BETTING

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