Gambling and the New NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement

This week, the NFL players began voting on a proposed collective bargaining agreement. If you want to check out the details of the 439-page agreement, click here. However, for the convenience of our readers, we’ve scanned the proposal for any reference to gambling.

The NFL has been dead set against anything about sports betting, and their objections even veered into off into fantasy football sometimes. But the times are changing, and as we all know, money talks.

Gambling References We Found

Within the 439 page document, there are 34 references to “gambling” and two references to “gamblers.”

The first mention of gambling is under Article 12: Revenue Accounting and Calculation of the Salary Cap. We found mentions of revenue from gambling. That revenue is defined as:

  • Revenue concerning any performance of NFL players in NFL games, gambling on any aspect of NFL games, or in any other NFL/Club-related activity 
  • gambling-related sponsorship revenues 
  • operation of gambling of any kind in an NFL stadium 
  • use of NFL/Club-related telecasts and other content by gambling-related businesses
  • use of NFL/Club licensed gambling applications 
  • revenues related to ensuring the gambling-related integrity of NFL games or other NFL/Club-related activity

And you thought there wasn’t any gambling in the NFL. While that’s technically true, we are seeing a slow-motion move toward the NFL claiming their share of the gambling revenue stream.

Let’s Follow the NFL’s Sports Betting Bread Crumbs

The NFL recently expanded its partnership with Sportsradar, a data company, to distribute NFL statistics to sportsbooks. Sportradar is demanding sportsbooks pay a 1.5% cut of their net profit from in-game bets for access to the NFL’s official data feed. That’s according to ESPN’s David Purdum. Furthermore, that money goes into the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement.

The league also recently partnered with Caesars Entertainment; however, at first, this relationship will marketing-based rather than gambling-based. That said, the NFL now has a direct connection to one of the biggest casino companies in the world, and Caesars’ aggressively lobbies for sports betting across the United States.

We’ve also noticed that the online casino 888 Sportsbook is now an official sponsor of the New York Jets. That sponsorship works around the legal sports gambling that 888 provides in New Jersey, because it doesn’t explicitly talk about sports betting. But you really can’t avoid that fact if you go to their website.

Other NFL teams also have sponsorship deals with casino operators that don’t yet have sports betting; however, as states continue to legalize sports betting, most of those casinos will launch betting on NFL games. The bottom line is, both the players and their representatives know that gambling money is going to pour in and they want a piece of the action.

The Gambling Loop Holes

The collective bargaining agreement speaks of revenue from “gambling of any kind in an NFL stadium.” While right now, the NFL doesn’t allow sportsbooks to set up shop at NFL stadiums, both Virginia and Maryland have proposed bills that would allow gambling at professional sporting events and the NFL will begin to allow “betting lounges” at its stadiums in states with legal gambling. However, these betting lounges will be hidden in the dark corners of the stadium and any reference to sportsbooks must have a “sponsor” label. Also, these lounges won’t have betting windows, rather, they’ll only offer “mobile betting options.” But this means, betting at an NFL stadium is now tacitly sanctioned by the NFL.

The language of the collective bargaining agreement goes into more detail, but it’s obvious that they are prepared to expand into the world of sports betting. While they’re not advertising their new love of sports betting, it’s there and the new collective bargaining agreement will let it grow. 

However, any player caught betting on an NFL game will be suspended, so nothing has changed there. Likewise, players can’t accept bribes and can also be reprimanded for not reporting a bribe or “knowingly associating with gamblers or gambling activity.”

It’s only a matter of time before the NFL fully accepts gambling. The issue at the moment is the NFL cares deeply about public perception. As sports betting becomes legal in more states, and sportsbooks start popping up, you can be sure the NFL will get their cut.


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