The National Football League has completely flipped its stance on gambling after it announced a multiyear deal with three gambling companies to become official sports betting partners of the league.
According to a report from CBS Sports, the NFL partnered with DraftKings, FanDuel and Caesars Entertainment Thursday in an agreement that gives the three companies “exclusive access to NFL content” that can be used for its sports betting operations.
The three companies will be allowed to use NFL copyrighted logos, highlights and trademarks, which can be used on its websites to promote betting. The league also hopes to start using gambling content during broadcasts in the upcoming seasons.
The deal is worth about $1 billion over the next five years, according to the Financial Times, and it seems like the end of a gradual 180-degree flip on its gambling stance.
In 2012, after then-Gov. Chris Christie signed a law that allowed sports betting in New Jersey, the NFL and the three other major American sports leagues sued the state. The leagues claimed that betting on its product would cause harm to the brand by “fostering suspicion that individual plays and final scores of games may have been influenced by factors other than honest athletic competition.”
But once the Supreme Court overturned PASPA six years later, allowing sports betting to be decided at the state level, the NFL started to change its tune.
In January 2019, the league announced a $30 million partnership with Caesars Entertainment. It made Caesars the official casino partner of the league but did not authorize any exclusive sports betting access.
Individual teams also began making deals with casino brands. Caesars partnered with the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears and the Las Vegas Raiders, while MGM inked an agreement with the New York Jets.
The shift started leaning even further in the pro-gambling direction as owners in states with legal betting began lobbying lawmakers to let them put sportsbooks in their arenas. Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Football Team told Maryland lawmakers he would finance the team’s new stadium without any help from the taxpayer if the team could acquire a gambling license.
The league itself even had plans to hold the 2020 NFL Draft on the Las Vegas Strip before the COVID-19 pandemic put that on hold.
With its most recent announcement, it’s clear that the league is now fully behind betting on its product. In a press release, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said that both the NFL and his company believe that betting will drive fan engagement with the game.
“The way fans consume sports years from now will look drastically different, and it will be due in part to forward-thinking collaborations like our expanded relationship with the NFL today as an official sports betting and exclusive daily fantasy sports partner,” said Robins. “We share the same vision as the NFL on fan engagement and believe this agreement will lead to new innovations that will ultimately enhance both the product on the field and on the screen.”