- The federal ban on sports betting came to an end in May 2018
- Since then, major sports leagues have been capitalizing on legal sports betting
- The NFL is allowing teams to get casino sponsors and their official gaming partner is Caesars
- Alliance Football and the Arena Football League are also getting involved in the space
Sports leagues and sports betting
For many years, the National Football League (NFL) was staunchly against the legalization of sports betting, fighting tooth and nail along with other sports leagues to preserve the federal ban. There was plenty of legal action on the matter, but ultimately the efforts were fruitless.
In May 2018, the Supreme Court ruled to end the ban. Since then, eight states have legalized sports betting, and many more are set to follow suit in 2019 and beyond.
Immediately after the Supreme Court ruling, the sports leagues gave up on their efforts to combat sports betting. Instead, they began to look for ways in which they could capitalize on this new market. Some of the leagues, such as the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB) pushed hard for integrity fees.
This would be a slice of every sports bet that would go to the leagues. They would then use this money for operating their monitoring systems to help ensure the integrity of their events. So far, no state has included integrity fees in a sports betting bill, but some states are considering such a provision.
NFL’s stance on sports betting
The NFL is taking more of a muted stance. The league now allows its teams to accept gambling sponsors. They are not permitted to promote specific sportsbooks, but these sponsors can use the team’s logo in their advertising. Some teams have subsequently gotten on board with casino sponsors, including the Dallas Cowboys and the Baltimore Ravens.
The NFL as a whole has also made Caesars Entertainment the official gaming sponsor of the league. Not many of the details of this deal were made public, but it is known that Caesars can use the NFL logo in its advertising and, in return, they will help the league with their integrity protection measures.
Other football leagues getting on board
The NFL is not the only football league in North America that is embracing sports betting. Both the Arena Football League (AFL) and the new spring league known as the Alliance of American Football (AAF) are in talks with casino sportsbooks.
The AFL has an expansion team in Atlantic City in the hope of capitalizing on the enthusiasm for sports betting there. The league is hoping that sports betting will help increase the levels of fan engagement and boosting the league’s popularity.
The league’s commissioner, Randall Boe, says: “We think Arena Football and sports betting is a match made in heaven. Watch our games, bet on our games. It’ll make this even more fun.” With an average of 90 points per game and a score coming almost every six plays, it is certainly a high-octane version of the sport.
New Jersey leads the charge
Right now, New Jersey is the focal point for football betting. Recently, sportsbooks were allowed to offer betting on AAF games, but only on their outcome. Betting on arena football has been permitted since sportsbooks started operating in the state.
The first game at home for the AFL’s new Atlantic City team will be on May 5. The team is owned by Trifecta Sports and Entertainment, which also has teams in New York and Philadelphia. The ownership is planning some innovative ideas in the new Atlantic City franchise to help engage with fans.
FanDuel is already accepting AAF game bets and will be getting ready for the upcoming arena football season. There will be a trial period for their sportsbook. A FanDuel spokesperson said: “We’ll put the AAF games on some of our big screens in our FanDuel Sportsbooks in New Jersey and West Virginia alongside NBA, NHL and college basketball games, and see what happens. It’s new, but there is no better focus group than a sportsbook.”