27 Aug

The NFL’s Turnover on Legal US Sportsbooks

Legal US Betting Sites – Why the NFL Pulled its Defense for OffenseLegal US Betting Sites – Why the NFL Shifted from Defense to Offense

Americans have been betting on sports since… well, since we took on the title of ‘Americans’. Gambling on athletic contests is something that’s just always been. It’s not difficult to imagine cavemen betting their favorite hides and tools on who can throw a spear the farthest, or with the most accuracy. The competitive nature of mankind is what leads so many of us to either compete in contests of skills, or bet on those who do.

In modern times, Americans have been betting on professional and college sports for years. But for the vast majority of those years, it was not legal to do so. The sports leagues themselves were pleased with this formula, as they felt it protected the integrity of their operations. One of the most avid opponents of betting has long been the National Football League. So why, all of a sudden, has the NFL supported legal betting, signing huge contracts with legal US sportsbooks?

Why the NFL Pulled its Defense for Offense

There are two very simple answers to this question. Both have everything to do with money. One is more obvious, and kind of paints the NFL as the bad guy in this picture. The other is more often overlooked, and to be honest, makes the NFL’s transition from a defensive stance to an offensive push seem a lot more practical, if not downright responsible.

The obvious reason is to make more money. Yes, the NFL wants more cash. Who wouldn’t? Does it make them greedy? Well, maybe. But again, the NFL isn’t just a fun form of weekend entertainment. It’s a business. And every business is designed to make money. The more money it makes, the more entertainment options it can offer fans.

If it weren’t for all that money, would Raymond James Stadium – home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – have a full-size pirate ship with cannons that blast for every point scored by their beloved home team? I think not. And do the fans love those cannons? Absolutely!

NFL Partners with Bevy of Legal US Betting Sites

Since snubbing its nose at any and all forms of betting, including daily fantasy sports half a decade ago, the NFL’s turnover on betting has been dramatic. This year, the NFL teamed up with seven legal betting operations. In April, the league signed a first-tier, 5-year, “tri-exclusive” contract with DraftKings, FanDuel, and Caesars. They then signed a second-tier (non-exclusive) contract with FoxBext.

In early August, more major partnerships were announced. This time, the NFL was adding three second-tier partners to its list; BetMGM, PointsBet and WynnBet.

All of these contracts will earn the NFL extra funds from its original partnership with Genius Sports, the league’s official data and analytic stats provider. Each partner of the NFL is contractually obligated to get its data from Genius Sports. We’ll explain that not-so-greedy move in a moment.

The Underlying Acceptance of Legal US Sportsbooks

I mentioned there was another reason the NFL chose to back the legalization of sports betting. Yes, money is the underlying factor, but it’s more of a loss prevention technique. You see, back when the US government began seriously considering legalization, the NFL realized it was a matter of when, not if. So, knowing that legalization was all-but inevitable, they set researchers to work to study the situation in-depth.

What they found was that prohibition was largely ineffective. Americans were still betting on sports. I don’t mean a few friends getting together and betting $20 bucks on Sunday night game, or a playoff office pool. I’m talking about $75 to $125 billion in illegal sports gambling taking place; the overwhelming majority of which was being wagered with offshore mobile betting sites.

Through extensive research, the NFL also found that about 80% of football fans were not opposed to legalization. Among them, 20% were already betting illegally; 30% would not bet illegally, but would bet if it were legal in their state; 30% didn’t care one way or the other; the remaining 20% were “active rejecters”, staunchly opposed to the idea. That last group grew smaller with each passing year of statistical research, now down to 12%.

NFL Says Do It, But Do It Right…

So, the NFL came to the conclusion that legalization and regulation was the correct path. However, it had to be done in a way that protects the league, the athletes, the individuals placing the bets, and also youth sports fans who are not of legal age to gamble. Ideal legislation would involve strict licensing requirements, unyielding compliance, and transparent markets that promote responsibility and consumer protection.

To ensure universal fairness, the NFL feels each and every bet, with each and every licensed sportsbook, must be resolved using the league’s official data; that being the official data recorded by the NFL’s analytic partner, Genius Sports. Thus, the NFL has partnered with more than half a dozen legal US betting sites to ensure their exclusive use of official data for bet resolution.

NFL’s Chief Strategist Explains the Shift

The NFL’s Chief Strategist and Growth Officer, Executive Vice President Christopher Halpin, explains the league’s shift from defense to offense:

For a long time, legalized sports betting was this sort of great unknown for the NFL. I think a lot of people just naturally assumed it would be the worst…. We started to say, ‘Okay, the practical reality [is] on the other side of the Supreme Court, there will be legalized sports betting.’… We said, ‘Okay, now let’s make sure this is the best market possible and best development possible for NFL fans.’ ”

This year alone, the NFL and its 32 teams are collectively projecting a revenue stream of $270 million from sports betting deals. No doubt, that figure is going to rise exponentially as the league reinvests that money into bigger and better things.

You can definitely see the market growing to $1 billion-plus of league opportunity over this decade,” said Halpin. It’s all about achieving the perfect balance, accommodating every fan, including the non-bettors.

For adult fans who want to bet in legal markets on sports, have products and partners that serve them best in class and advance their experience,” said Halpin. “And on the flip side, don’t alienate the fan like my mother who doesn’t want sports betting in her national CBS broadcast.”

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