Just when two of the big three American sports leagues – the NBA and MLB – have warmed up to the idea of US sports betting in the future, money-making enterprise NFL is having cold feet about jumping on the bandwagon.
Yahoo! Finance reported that the NFL is not rushing to join calls for the legalization of sports betting in the US, as it expresses their apprehension on how legalized gambling would affect the football games itself.
The NFL, known for being tight-lipped on all issues, gave a hint of its position on legalized sports betting through its senior labor relations counsel Brook Gardiner, who spoke at the 30th annual National Conference on Problem Gambling, in Tarrytown, New York.
Gardiner expressed fear that the integrity of the sport will be compromised should NFL throws its support for the legalization of sports betting.
“One point to think about that people don’t mention as much, but is very prominent in the league’s discussions is: would legalized gambling affect the product itself? Are we affecting the game itself or how people view the game, and does the game itself become tangential, and does the money-making enterprise become more important than the game?” Gardiner asked.
“Obviously the NFL has been very conservative in this area. And there’s a strong contingent in the league that is focusing on this, but it is not unanimous. It is not all a rush to legalization,” he said.
Gardiner’s recent statement was in line with the position of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell who earlier said in an ESPN radio interview in April: “I think all of us have evolved a little bit on the gambling. To me, where I cross the line is anything that can impact that integrity of the game. If people feel like it’s going to have an influence on the outcome of the game, we are absolutely opposed to that. And that’s why we’re opposed to team sports gambling. We do not want to be involved in that.”
But critics find it ironic that the NFL, which is already a money-making enterprise, worries about a “money-making enterprise” influencing the outcome of the game.
It is not a secret that the NFL is a money-making juggernaut which collects billions of dollars from advertising to digital media to broadcast rights to merchandise sales. The league’s 32 owners even shared $12 billion in revenue last year.
They even casted doubt on the integrity of the NFL, which has been dragged in different controversies including the off-the-field domestic violence issues.