Once forbidden, gambling now embraced by NFL

Nov 21, 2022, 8:10 PM | Updated: Nov 22, 2022, 2:58 pm
FILE - People line up to make sports bets at the Borgata casino in Atlantic City, N.J., March 19, 2...

FILE - People line up to make sports bets at the Borgata casino in Atlantic City, N.J., March 19, 2021. Gambling has gone from the forbidden topic in the NFL to a key part of the league's present and future. The days of lobbying against widespread legalized sports betting, preventing broadcast partners from even discussing point spreads and even prohibiting players from holding a fantasy football convention because it was at a casino are firmly in the past. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry, File)

(AP Photo/Wayne Parry, File)

              FILE - Football fans wait for kickoff in the sports betting lounge at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J., Sept. 9, 2018. Gambling has gone from the forbidden topic in the NFL to a key part of the league's present and future. The days of lobbying against widespread legalized sports betting, preventing broadcast partners from even discussing point spreads and even prohibiting players from holding a fantasy football convention because it was at a casino are firmly in the past. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry, File)
            
              FILE - People make bets at the sportsbook at the Ocean Casino Resort, Feb. 10, 2022, in Atlantic City, N.J. Gambling has gone from the forbidden topic in the NFL to a key part of the league's present and future. The days of lobbying against widespread legalized sports betting, preventing broadcast partners from even discussing point spreads and even prohibiting players from holding a fantasy football convention because it was at a casino are firmly in the past. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry, File)
            
              FILE - People line up to make sports bets at the Borgata casino in Atlantic City, N.J., March 19, 2021. Gambling has gone from the forbidden topic in the NFL to a key part of the league's present and future. The days of lobbying against widespread legalized sports betting, preventing broadcast partners from even discussing point spreads and even prohibiting players from holding a fantasy football convention because it was at a casino are firmly in the past. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry, File)

Gambling has gone from the forbidden topic in the NFL to a key part of the league’s present and future.

The days of lobbying against widespread legalized sports betting, preventing broadcast partners from even discussing point spreads and even prohibiting players from holding a fantasy football convention because it was at a casino are firmly in the past.

With a team playing in Las Vegas just a short walk from the casinos on The Strip, sponsorship deals with gambling companies who pay millions for in-game advertisements and teams having sports books next to their stadiums, the relationship between America’s richest sports league and gambling is stronger than ever.

“The NFL has evolved quickly with the growing importance of sports betting on the overall ecosystem,” said Robert Fishman, a senior analyst with MoffettNathanson, a division of SVB Securities.

“Sports betting is continuing to grow in importance and will continue to be a driver of growth. We’re still in the very early days and there will be a natural evolution of how this continues to grow.”

The growth has been astronomical already since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018, setting the stage for legalized sports betting to spread outside Nevada to most of the rest of the country.

More than 30 states and Washington, D.C., allow sports betting either online or in person with several more set to join them in the next few years.

The NFL is doing its best to capitalize on that just a handful of years after Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to the court considering the overturning of PASPA that said sports betting “threatens to damage irreparably the integrity of, and public confidence in, NFL football.”

While there have been some issues like star receiver Calvin Ridley getting suspended for the season for betting on his own team’s games while being a member of the Atlanta Falcons, it has been a relatively smooth evolution.

“We’re happy with the growth and the structures that we’re seeing across most places,” said David Highhill, the NFL’s vice president, general manager of sports betting,

“It’s hard to call anything smooth when you’re dealing with a state-by-state structure. But overall we’ve been happy with the partnerships we’ve built.”

Highhill said the league also is focused on “responsible gambling” and gave a grant to the National Council on Problem Gambling to focus on that area.

The NFL has signed deals with DraftKings, FanDuel and Caesars Entertainment that reportedly could be worth about $1 billion for the league over five years.

Those companies have fueled an advertising spending spree that saw gambling companies spend $129 million in advertising during NFL games during the 2021 season, according to research from the Kantar Group.

Research from MoffettNathanson shows that legalized sports betting revenue in the United States grew from less than $500 million in 2019 in the first year after PASPA was overturned to more than $3 billion in 2021.

“In a few short years, the very idea of sports betting has been transformed from a taboo and sub rosa vice into a major business opportunity,” the company said in the report. “From sports leagues to rights owners to consumers, it is clear how important sports betting is today and how quickly sentiment has reversed the stigma that once was attached to this industry.”

The company projects the legalized sports betting market will generate $12 billion in revenue in 2025, with the NFL the most popular sport for bettors.

A poll conducted by Morning Consult for the American Gaming Association reported that about 47 million people plan to bet on NFL games in 2022, a 40% increase from just two years ago as sports betting has been legalized in more and more states.

More than one-third of NFL fans plan to bet on games this season with many taking advantage of innovations like same-game parlays.

“We’re also seeing there’s more casual betting interest,” Highhill said. “We see overall less people that are totally uninterested in sports betting. So the people that are interested are sort of more interested and the people that had more issues with it we see less and less of that. It shows broadly the population is getting used to sports betting and interested in it.”

Teams are taking advantage of the opportunities with the Arizona Cardinals opening a 17,000-square-foot sportsbook next to their stadium and the Washington Commanders planning to open one adjacent to their stadium.

Several other teams having betting lounges where fans are able to place wagers on their phones.

That could one day lead to fans being able to place live in-game bets from their seats in a stadium.

“That’s certainly possible,” Highhill said. “For those bets to have scale and significance to the operators that are creating them they’re going to need a lot of people interested in placing those bets.”

___

AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted from a courtroom af...
Associated Press

A look at Brittney Griner’s career on, off basketball court

A timeline of key events in Brittney Griner’s career on and off the basketball court: Oct. 18, 1990: Brittney Griner was born in Houston. 2009: Led Nimitz High School to Texas 5A girls basketball state championship game where they lost. The 6-foot-7 star dunked 52 times as a senior, including seven times in one game […]
1 day ago
FILE - Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner sits during the first half of Game 2 of basketball's ...
Associated Press

Griner for Bout: WNBA star freed in US-Russia prisoner swap

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden says WNBA star Brittney Griner is safe in American custody and on her way home after being released from Russia in an extraordinary prisoner swap. Biden said in an address from the White House on Thursday that these “past few months have been hell for Brittney” but that she […]
1 day ago
El volante inglés Jude Bellingham previo al partido contra Senegal por los octavos de final del Mu...
Associated Press

Which World Cup starlet can replace Messi and Ronaldo?

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are not ready to say goodbye to the World Cup just yet. But the clock is ticking on their careers and Qatar could be the last time we see them on soccer’s biggest stage. With that in mind, thoughts naturally turn to a new generation and […]
1 day ago
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, center, stands with his teammates during the World Cup round of 16 so...
Associated Press

Portugal stepping out of Ronaldo’s long shadow at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — To Bruno Fernandes, World Cup teammate Cristiano Ronaldo is the most famous athlete in sports. Joao Felix has described Ronaldo as “irreplaceable.” Gonçalo Ramos, Portugal’s new 21-year-old star, has never known his national team without Ronaldo involved in it. A future without the country’s greatest ever player could be a daunting […]
1 day ago
FILE - Spain's coach Jose Luis de la Fuente reacts during the men's final soccer match against Braz...
Associated Press

Luis Enrique replaced as Spain coach after World Cup exit

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Luis Enrique was replaced by Luis de la Fuente as Spain’s coach on Thursday, two days after the national team was eliminated in the round of 16 at the World Cup. Spain lost to Morocco 3-0 in a penalty shootout after a scoreless draw in regular and extra time. The Spanish […]
1 day ago
Spain's Ansu Fati, left, and Spain's Aymeric Laporte stand in dejection at the end of the World Cup...
Associated Press

Spain’s ‘tiki-taka’ under attack again after World Cup loss

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The Morocco players fell back on defense and patiently watched as Spain kept passing the ball around midfield during their round of 16 match at the World Cup. Side to side, from one Spanish player to another. Pass after pass, Spain tried to find an opening through the Moroccan defense, but […]
1 day ago
Once forbidden, gambling now embraced by NFL