Hell, much like the tundra of Lambeau Field, has officially frozen over as the National Football League goes looking for its first sports betting executive.
On Thursday, Legal Sports Report broke the news that the NFL was quietly putting out feelers for its first vice-president of sports betting. Yes, the league that worked hardest to stall New Jersey’s multi-year quest to overturn the federal betting prohibition is now looking for someone to help them capture those sweet, sweet betting bucks.
According to the report, the NFL’s new hire will have four main areas of responsibility, only one of which is related to preserving the integrity of its product, while the other three are primarily about (surprise!) maximizing revenue.
Those last three items include growing the NFL’s brand and reputation, growing fan engagement not just in the US but internationally, and boosting the value of the NFL’s official data and intellectual property. The new VP will also work with the NFL’s media department to distribute “content for gaming purposes and the integration of gaming products into the NFL’s platforms.”
The report came just 24 hours after the upstart XFL announced that its television broadcasts will incorporate betting information both on screen and in the commentator’s chatter. League president Jeffrey Pollack said the betting info would lead to “a more robust viewing experience that deepens our fan engagement and connectivity.”
The NFL has known for years that betting boosts fan engagement, particularly in viewers who continue to watch television broadcasts of games in which the outcome – save for a prop bet or two – is no longer in doubt. But the league’s OTT scare tactics of the past left it with little room to climb down from those sanctimonious heights.
The NFL has ever so slowly been shedding its gambling hypocrisy, allowing the Raiders to move to Las Vegas, signing a betting data deal with Sportradar, appointing Caesars Entertainment its first Official Casino Sponsor, and signing its first official wagering partner (albeit on the other side of the world where no one in the US will see the commercials).
Meanwhile, the XFL announced Thursday that it had named FanDuel its latest Official Fantasy Sports Partner after signing both DFS and sports betting partnerships with FanDuel’s rival DraftKings on Wednesday. It’s not clear why FanDuel didn’t spring for the actual betting deal, but perhaps it’s waiting to see how the betting is featured in this weekend’s broadcasts of the XFL’s first games.