[toc]The NFL is nothing but consistent on being ill-informed and nonsensical when it comes to its public stances on sports betting in the US and elsewhere.
The league apparently voted to move a franchise to Las Vegas without realizing that mobile sports betting is available everywhere in Nevada, according to recent reporting.
The NFL on mobile sports betting
The news that the Oakland Raiders were coming to Nevada — the only place with legal single-game sports betting in the US — is not that new.
What happened recently to put it back in the news? The Las Vegas Stadium Authority agreed to a lease for the Raiders to sign. There was a passage in the lease that would prevent the Raiders from offering gaming in the stadium.
Nevada regulators and sportsbooks think this would do nothing to prevent sports betting from happening in the stadium via mobile devices, operated by anyone not named “the Raiders”; more from ESPN here. (By way of background, almost every sportsbook in Nevada offers some sort of mobile app that can be used by residents of and visitors to the state.)
But of course, nothing is that simple. Here’s what NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had to say on the issue later:
And more from the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
“I’ve said before, I think with the Raiders playing in Las Vegas, there will be (gaming) policies that we will evaluate and look at what we can do differently, but also intelligently,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We will look at all those things over the next couple of years. (Mobile gaming) isn’t something we’ve addressed.
Wait, the NFL put a team in Vegas without knowing the lay of the land on sports betting?
Clearly, the NFL knew sports betting went on in Las Vegas. The NFL also maintains that legal sports betting threatens the integrity of its games.
If all of the above, we’re to believe that the NFL moved a team there without knowing the full scope of Nevada sports betting, and without knowing that sports betting in the stadium could be a possibility.
We also have this from the ESPN report:
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told ESPN in an email that the Raiders “are required to abide by League rules on the matter.” McCarthy did not elaborate on which rule he was referring to, and the Raiders did not respond to a request for comment.
The league moving the Raiders to Las Vegas and then potentially telling Nevada that it has to change its gaming regulations to stop sports betting in the stadium seems like peak NFL to me. (The Raiders, certainly, aren’t going to be able to enforce such a league mandate on its own.)
Something doesn’t add up, which should be shocking to no one who follows what the NFL does and says. How can you say that sports betting is the bogeyman out of one side of the mouth, and out of the other say you aren’t fully aware of how sports betting takes place in a future NFL host city?
Of course, we also have the dichotomy that Goodell says that the regulated Nevada sports betting market “could be beneficial” for game integrity, while saying he still opposes sports betting in the next breath.
The NFL’s stance of being wholly against sports betting is increasingly sticking out like a sore thumb.
What the NFL says publicly and does privately might not mesh
The sports betting issue is obviously not that much of a concern for the NFL. After all, the league quickly and almost unanimously put a team in Las Vegas. Some owners have privately told the media that sports betting is the future, no matter what the league says publicly.
Mobile sports betting is going to take place in Nevada and Las Vegas when the Raiders come to town, and the end of civilization (or the NFL) as we know it will not take place. Games will go on with little fear of being thrown or altered for sports betting purposes. And frankly, that’s at least in part due to the regulated nature of sports betting in Nevada.
Trying to stop mobile sports betting in the stadium would be a waste of time and effort (even though it could be handled via geolocation practices employed in Nevada and other jurisdictions with regulated online gambling).
And the Raiders aren’t coming to town for several more years. Which gives the NFL plenty of time to evolve its stance on sports betting, and join most of the rest of us in the 21st century.