NFL’s decision to allow casino ads has nothing to do with anti-gambling stance

nfl head hitThe NFLsometimes gets caught talking out of both sides of their mouth. But that’s not the case this time around.Last week, the league officially announced that it will allow teams to accept casino advertisements for the next two seasons. Decisions on allowing casino ads will be made exclusively by teams without any interference from the NFL, according to league spokesman Brian McCarthy.

The move raised plenty of eyebrows, particularly from those that thought that allowing casino ads into the league goes against the NFL’s stiff anti-gambling stance. But does it really? Or is this a classic case of apples and oranges?

There’s no denying that the bottom line in the decision to allow casino ads is all predicated on the revenue potential of having casinos spend their advertising money on the most popular sports league in the country.

To their credit, the NFL laid out plenty of stringent conditions that teams must follow before they decide to do business with casinos. For one, the ads are only limited to the upper bowl of the league’s venues, local radio broadcasts and in-game programs. Teams are also prohibited from using team logos on these ads; they also can’t have a casino sponsor any seat section in the arena. And furthermore, every advertisement must also carry a “gamble responsibly” message

In a statement distributed to the media, McCarthy said that the league remains steadfast in its opposition to the proliferation of gambling on NFL games. “There is a distinction between accepting advertising in this limited fashion and gambling on the outcome of our games,” he said.

The potential monetary windfall from this new source of income is significant, especially for teams that have casinos near their locale. The New York Post estimated that both the New York Giants and the New York Jets could pocket as much as $5 million each from casino advertisers. Likewise, places like Philadelphia, New Orleans, and New England all have casinos in their locations.

We think it’s a fantastic idea for the NFL to allow casino advertisements into the league. Quite frankly, we’re a little surprised that it took this long for them to smell the roses because only the naive and the ambivalent will say that gambling doesn’t have an impact on the NFL’s popularity. On the contrary, it’s one of the biggest reasons why it’s far and away the most popular sports league in the US, attributed in large part because of the incredible gambling activity that sports books generate from these games.

As a business in itself, it makes perfect sense to open your doors to casino advertisers while still being clear to your anti-gambling stance. Those are two different things and we applaud the NFL for recognizing it.