Legalization of Sports Betting and the Impact on the NFL

All over the world, attitudes about sports betting are changing. It’s happening in Europe and very recently, the U.S. took the sports betting plunge. This plunge came in May of 2018 when the U.S, Supreme Court ruled that the nation’s ban on sports betting outside of Nevada was unconstitutional. Simply put, it violated the “states rights” clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The proliferation of legalized sports betting in so many countries throughout the world has created a ripple effect that touched on every major sports league in the world. That is especially true as it pertains to the U.S.’s National Football League (NFL).

Understanding the Relationship Between Sports Leagues and Sports Betting

Before analyzing how the proliferation of legalized sports betting has impacted the NFL, there is something that needs to be clearly stated. Major U.S. sports leagues like the NFL were always the primary opponents of legalized sports betting up until about three or four years ago. They feared the look of impropriety that they felt would surely come when strange things happened during games.

To be fair, European soccer leagues accepted the premise of betting on soccer matches decades ago. However, it was always tenuous support because of the scrutiny the leagues, teams, and players received when sports betting scandals arose. Even professional European football leagues have always been wary about the possibility of big gamblers trying to fix matches. It has happened, and it has been damaging to all vested parties.

These same concerns are what drove U.S. major sports leagues to withhold their support for the “nationalized” right to wager on sports. Leagues like the NFL eventually made peace with the idea that Las Vegas could accept wagers, but even that was done with some level of consternation. The result was every time the sports betting topic was introduced through the years, U.S. sports league owners and commissioners would withhold their support.

So, What Changed with the NFL?

How the Legalization of Sports Betting Has Impacted the NFL

It was inevitable that many countries throughout the world would eventually see the sports betting light. The reality is the internet and the innovation of VPNs made it impossible for governments to stop their residents from betting on sports. At some point, each government has been faced with the fact their people are betting on sports, and potential tax revenue is being tossed into the coffers of other countries.

That is exactly what led the state of New Jersey to lead the final charge to get sports betting legalized in the U.S. When it happened, the NFL’s leadership did an immediate about-face and threw its support behind one sports betting initiative after another.

Why the change? There is an old saying about why things happen. In this case, “follow the money” is applicable. The reality is the NFL and its owners figured out there were ways they could greatly profit by supporting sports betting throughout the world. We are talking big money. The same kind of money that allows smaller market teams in the English Premier Football League to compete with the wealthier teams for top players.

How does the NFL profit from sports betting?

Marketing Partnership With Sports Betting Operators

Once the leash was taken off sports betting in the U.S., both major sports leagues and sports betting operators realized there were massive marketing benefits available for both sides. For retail/mobile bookmakers, the affiliation with the NFL or a sports team would mean massive exposure in all of the right markets. Given the popularity of the NFL, bookmakers have always coveted having their brands associated with the top sports league in the world.

For the NFL, the realization sports betting operators would pay enormous fees for marketing relationships became very apparent. Caesars Sportsbook paid $138 million for the naming rights to the New Orleans Superdome, home of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints. This is likely the tip of the iceberg for what is coming in the future.

Overseas Exposures

There is a decidedly European influence on the U.S. sports betting community. William Hill was acquired by Caesars Entertainment, owner of Caesars Sportsbook. Entain partnered with MGM to create BetMGM. Unibet and bet365 are operating in several U.S. states. These European bookmakers are now pushing the NFL market harder than ever before in Europe. That creates oversees NFL football fans who eventually purchase NFL merchandise. Clearly, additional overseas exposure is going to be a boon for the NFL and its owners.

Here’s the great part. UK sports bettors are learning to love the NFL. They can bet games through UK licensed/GamStop online sportsbooks. If a GamStop gambler wants to bet on the NFL while blocked from their UK licensed sportsbooks accounts, they can still get access to non-GamStop sports sites on Everyone can get into the NFL action.

For anyone who doesn’t know, GamStop is a voluntary self-exclusion program that provides problem gamblers with a resource for battling their gambling addiction.

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