Everyone loves the NFL –
While there are recreational and professional bettors throughout the year, nothing creates more buzz than the advent of the National Football League season. Joe from accounting suddenly morphs from a droll bean counting clock puncher to Mr. Vegas, a wise guy with an opinion who is more than willing to share his infinite knowledge on teams, stats, totals and sides.
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king and in the world of cubicle dwellers and squares everywhere, a guy like Joe is indeed a Cyclops. Because when the NFL rolls around, there are a million guys like Joe and bookmakers all across the planet are counting on all of them to put their money where their mouth is. While Joe may savor the opportunity to expound upon his vast knowledge of point spreads and reveal his familiarity with a somewhat nefarious hobby, he is in fact the primary reason why so much money flows from the sheeple to the pockets of the wolves on the other side of the counter.
Some may take issue with my terminology, characterizing the oddsmakers and bookmakers as wolves but I tell you this, I would much rather be a wolf than a sheep. And the men (and women) who hang these numbers are not in business to lose money but rather take advantage of the wildly popular notion that being a knowledgeable football fan translates into being a successful bettor. The two simply do not, as many would believe, necessarily go hand-in-hand.
The NFL, and to a lesser degree college football, make the biggest impact on offshore shops who see a huge bump in business due to the football-only bettors flocking back to websites they had abandoned since the Super Bowl. In Las Vegas, the football games not only inject a sizeable boost to the sportsbooks but the byproduct of all that action is that the football bettors don’t go home after the games are through. They like to try their hand at craps, blackjack and dump a few bucks or more into the slot machines. Once they take a break gambling, they have to eat somewhere and yet more discretionary income is poured back into the resort casino’s coffers. It’s a win-win for everyone involved, except the majority of those poor souls who look to strike it rich betting football, only to strike out once the games are finished.
But the big difference between offshore books and their bricks and mortar brethren in Las Vegas is that the offshore bookmakers rely almost exclusively on sports betting. Sure, there are online casinos but for the sake of this discussion we shall keep it confined to wagering on games, particularly the NFL. While the Vegas books are viewed primarily as the carrot to get those football gamblers to spend some of their down time in the casino and on games where the house edge is much greater, the offshore sites understand that football is their bread and butter, the raison d’être.
The Vegas strip casinos, the major players who dump billions of dollars into making theirs the latest and greatest, posted a loss of $2 ½ billion in the fiscal your 2010. But that is actually good news as the previous year those same casino resorts posted a $4.1 billion dollar loss. These are statistics which include gaming, rooms and restaurants. In other words, the influx of activity that the NFL produces actually brightens a rather bleak financial portrait of the major casinos and resorts located along the strip and throughout Clark County.
But that’s what makes the NFL the most watched, most talked about and most profitable of all the four majors. Everybody has an opinion and even those who ordinarily eschew purchasing even a lottery ticket will indulge themselves a dalliance with betting on the NFL whether it be a parlay card for a couple of bucks or a straight wagers on the ever popular TV games. All those small bettors add up and they are dead money year in and year out. It’s the sharpshooters, the pros, the steam machines that cause bookmakers the most angst not the average Joe’s whose bark is far worse than their bite.
The NFL stance –
You would think that the NFL would embrace anything that causes their product to be a moneymaking juggernaut but that would be an erroneous assumption. The NFL’s official stance towards gambling on games has always been a tacit acknowledgement but an official rebuke.
The current commissioner Roger Goodell is in lockstep with his predecessors in his condemnation of wagering on the outcome of games. They do not want to be officially associated with anything that could tarnish the integrity of the game because if fans believe the fix to be in, then the entire league would be compromised and its very existence jeopardized. Factor in the shadowy stigma of bookmaking in general and it becomes a side of the street that the NFL dare not walk. But the NFL will certainly reap the financial benefits from the millions of those who will not only walk on that wild side but will set up camp for the entire season.
It is therefore a bit juxtaposed that the NFL has welcomed fantasy football with open arms. Money leagues are openly and legally embraced by both the league and the jurisdictions within the United States. Fans can now form their own teams, in a very real sense, wagering on the outcomes not of the games but of the performance of the players. And that distinction is critical in the minds of both the NFL and the United States government (outside of Las Vegas).
As far as those punters who enjoy the sport of wagering on the games as much as the sport itself, the NFL knows nothing but sees everything. And I am sure Roger likes what he sees even if he won’t admit it!
SportsbookReview.com has submitted the following article to CalvinAyre.com. To have your voice heard please submit article and op-ed ideas to Bill Beatty.