The American Gaming Association (AGA) has launched a fresh attack upon the National Football League’s opposition to legal sports betting.
On Wednesday, the AGA released the results of a national survey that showed the overwhelming majority of NFL fans support legal sports betting while just 17% oppose it. The Morning Consult poll queried 45,165 NFL fans over a two-week span at the end of 2016 and the results were released following last week’s NFL owners’ meeting in Phoenix.
The poll is centered around three main points, including whether fans support overturning the federal PASPA sports betting prohibition and letting individual states decide for themselves whether to permit legal betting within their borders.
Fans were also asked whether legal betting with “reputable” US firms – you know, like the AGA members that permit money laundering and engage in bribery – would make betting on sports safer then with internationally licensed sportsbooks; and whether betting on games (a) makes fans more likely to watch games, (b) makes watching games more enjoyable, and (c) makes fans more closely follow teams and players.
The poll is shrewdly broken down on an individual team basis, thereby allowing media in each team’s market to run with bespoke statistics demonstrating fans’ desire to undo decades of the NFL’s anti-betting hysteria.
For example, 67% of Arizona Cardinals fans support overturning PASPA (44% strongly in favor, 23% still in favor, just not strongly) while only 15% are opposed. At the other end of the scale, only 48% of Seattle Seahawks fans supported state-level betting, but this still easily eclipsed the 17% who stood in opposition.
Similar disparities appeared in the other questions, with clear majorities of fans saying betting would boost their own enjoyment of and engagement with the action on the field. This dovetails with last year’s Nielsen Sports survey (also AGA-commissioned) that found sports bettors were more avid consumers of NFL TV coverage.
The AGA adopted a more activist stance toward legalizing sports betting in 2015 and recently filed an amicus brief supporting New Jersey’s long-running quest for the right to permit legal wagering within its borders.
The NFL remains the principal obstacle standing in New Jersey’s legal path, although the league’s oft-stated mantra that its games’ integrity would suffer ‘irreparable’ damage from legal wagering has become an increasingly tricky position to defend in the wake of NFL owners’ recent approval of the Oakland Raiders relocating to Las Vegas.
Shortly after the Oakland vote, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters that, for the moment, the league didn’t plan to invoke its right to force Nevada sportsbooks to refrain from taking action on Oakland games. Goodell claimed this action wouldn’t be necessary due to “the regulatory environment there, which actually could be beneficial in this case.”
So, Goodell believes legal betting in Nevada would be beneficial to ensuring NFL game integrity while legal betting in New Jersey would cause the league to collapse quicker than the Atlanta Falcons after 30 minutes of play. Perhaps Goodell ought to be made to observe the NFL’s concussion protocol and sit out the next few plays until a doctor confirms he knows what year it is.