Monday, February 5, 2024

The NFL embraces sports gambling for fans but not for players

 The Superbowl is in Las Vegas, and gambling is being embraced by the NFL for fans, but not for players and other NFL employees.

The NYT has the story:

N.F.L.’s Rapid Embrace of Gambling Creates Mixed Signals. The league is pushing to popularize and benefit from sports betting while still trying to guard against the potential pitfalls for its players, employees and fans.  By Jenny Vrentas

"Since the Supreme Court struck down, in 2018, a federal law that effectively banned sports betting outside Nevada — a prohibition once backed by the N.F.L.’s commissioner, Roger Goodell — the N.F.L. has embraced the gambling industry. It has forged partnerships reportedly worth nearly $1 billion over five years with sports betting companies, and permitted a sports book to operate inside one of its stadiums. Now it even has a team in Las Vegas, which the league shunned for decades because any affiliation was seen as a threat to the integrity of the game.

"Yet the embedding of sports gambling so quickly into the culture of the league has resulted in jarring contradictions. The N.F.L. is pushing to popularize and benefit from sports betting while still guarding against the potential pitfalls that it long condemned. While the league donates money to promote responsible gambling, its broadcasts are peppered with advertisements for sports betting companies. The N.F.L. is part of a growing apparatus that encourages casual fans to regularly place wagers on games, while punishing league employees — most notably players — who might do the same.


"Americans legally wagered more than $115 billion on sports in 2023, according to the American Gaming Association, the national trade group for the gambling industry. Nearly 25 million more Americans bet on sports last year than in 2018, the group said, and the number of states where betting on sports is legal will reach 38 this year.


"[A] report projected that around $1.5 billion would be legally wagered on next Sunday’s Super Bowl, more than 1 percent of the money bet legally on all sports last year.


"n 2021, the year the N.F.L. struck deals with its three sports book partners, it gave the National Council on Problem Gambling a three-year, $6.2 million grant that was used in part to modernize the help line that appears at the bottom of betting ads. The league’s contribution is a small fraction of what gambling companies pay to be part of the N.F.L.’s marketing apparatus, but it is the largest grant in the council’s history and exceeded the nonprofit’s grant total over the previous four years, according to tax filings.


"The league’s approach to gambling violations within its own ranks, though, remains punitive. For decades, sports leagues have believed that gambling could damage the integrity of results — with worries over a player’s throwing a game because of a bet, for instance — so the focus has been on enforcement and punishment over prevention and treatment.

"The N.F.L. prohibits league and team personnel from betting on any sport, while players are allowed to bet on sports other than the N.F.L., as long as they do not do so at the team facility or while on team or league business. While in Las Vegas for the Super Bowl, members of the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers and the hundreds of league employees, many staying at Caesars Palace, are not permitted to play casino games and may enter a sports book only if passing through to another part of the hotel."

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