Delaware has legalized parlay betting and hopes to allow wagers on multiple NFL games. The league is fighting this vigorously, seeing a wave of NFL gambling coming if it allows it to happen in Delaware. This, despite the fact that NFL betting is legal in Nevada.
At a time when states are facing major revenue shortfalls and slashing budgets for things like education, parks and public safety, some fans and state officials say the league’s staunch stance against the proliferation of sports betting is unfair, especially in light of public funding that benefits the NFL’s franchises. In the past two decades, according to John Vrooman, professor of sports economics at Vanderbilt University, the NFL has taken in nearly $17 billion in taxpayer subsidies to build new stadiums.
“Any time the NFL wants to stand up and dictate to public bodies how they can make money or where they can make money, they have very little standing to do so…especially when it comes to gambling,” says Todd Portune, a commissioner in Ohio’s Hamilton County.
Responding to the use of taxpayer money for public projects, [NFL spokesman Joe] Browne says, “The NFL respects the right of public entities to raise funds by appropriate means. We object, however, when they seek to do so by using our assets without permission or regard for the negative impact on our games.”
The NFL says it has managed to preserve football’s integrity despite its popularity with bettors in Las Vegas. It employs security representatives to monitor gambling trends on its games and instituted both educational programs and prohibitions on gambling for league and team employees.
“It’s pure greed,” says New Jersey State Sen. Raymond Lesniak. “They’re only fighting it because they’re not getting a piece of the action.”
While the League has legitimate concerns about the impact of betting on the integrity of their game, let’s concede Lesniaks’ point that the NFL is fighting this because they’re incurring risk and expense while getting no commensurate reward. Why shouldn’t they have a right to deny Delaware the right to profit on the back of a business NFL owners have developed over several decades? More to the point, what gives Delaware the right to use NFL games as a means of collecting revenues?
It’s well established that one can’t sell logo apparel, video games, and other paraphernalia related to professional or collegiate sports teams without paying licensing fees to the controlling leagues and complying with stipulations set forth by said leagues. Not only do the leagues have a right to a share of the proceeds but they have a right to ensure that their brand is associated with quality products that don’t tarnish said brand.
Why would gambling on games be any different?