NFL Betting

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?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Grewgills says:

    Doesn’t Atlantic City also have NFL betting?
    NFL gambling is also available online.

    What would be that actual cost to the NFL if gambling on NFL games was allowed in Delaware?
    It seems that the only direct effect on the NFL will be marginally increased interest by those gambling.

  2. markm says:

    they have a right to ensure that their brand is associated with quality products that don’t tarnish said brand.

    …Detroit Lions…..

  3. 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.

    The implication of conceding this point is that the NFL would be ok with it if they were getting a cut. This is not true. The NFL rightfully fights against gambling on its product to maintain the integrity of its product. Taking any money at all from gambling would lead very quickly to the NFL being nothing more than WWF as there would be pressure to maximize this income stream by tweaking the results ever so slightly. Then it’s in for a penny in for a pound.

    There is gambling on NFL games, most of it illegal. Fighting against the legal gambling that goes on in Las Vegas would be tilting at windmills, while fighting against the illegal gambling is probably even more so, though the league continues to put up a good fight. I don’t deny that the NFL realizes they benefit from the interest created by the illegal and the legal gambling, but there are very good reasons why they can never get in bed with any gaming activity or organization if they want to survive.

  4. Herb says:

    I can understand the NFL’s objections, but I just hope that the NFL understands that their business model has some glaring holes in it.

    I think they do understand, at least in some ways, which is why they seek public-financing deals with host cities, why they’re so protective over licensing, etc.

    If they were to depend on ticket revenue alone, they would collapse financially.

  5. Michael says:

    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?

    So the NFL should have a right to decide what people can and cannot do with facts? Does the NFL have a right to deny Delaware from reporting who won a game without paying a royalty? How about who played in the game? Or that a game even happened?

    The NFL has rights over the broadcast of it’s games, not over the results of them.

  6. Ugh says:

    I thought Congress had passed a law that banned sports betting in the U.S. other than in Nevada, which I think got grandfathered in as they were the only state that had legalized at the time.