NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell talked about the future of sports betting in the US during a press conference at the league’s owners meetings on Wednesday.
What Goodell said on sports betting
Here are his remarks when he was asked about the league’s talks this week with owners about possible legalized wagering and the outcome of the New Jersey sports betting case, which is currently being contemplated by the US Supreme Court.
I don’t have any insight into what the Supreme Court is going to do and we’re not privy to that. I think what we did this week was make sure people understood how the prospects and potential for gambling can change, in part because of the Supreme Court decision, how it’s evolved on its own, beyond that. And this isn’t new work, we’ve been focused on this for several years, of how it’s affected the way we operate.
The No. 1 thing that was endorsed repeatedly by our membership was the integrity of our game though. We have to make sure that whatever environment we’re working in, and some of that may be related to what the Supreme Court decides, some of it might be future legislation, but we have to make sure we are operating in an environment where we can protect that integrity of the game. We recognize that we’re dealing in an environment here where we don’t know what the Supreme Court is going to do and we don’t know how other issues are going to evolve. But we wanted to make sure our clubs fully understood what we’re doing to make sure we’re prepared for that.
A win for New Jersey in that case could result in a rapid expansion of wagering around the country. Several states have already legalized wagering in anticipation of such a decision.
Legislation on sports betting?
The NFL’s interest in “future legislation” is a new topic from Goodell and the NFL.
So far, they have not been involved in a lobbying effort on sports betting spearheaded by the NBA and Major League Baseball.
This note came from NFL reporter Albert Breer:
One area addressed at this week’s annual meeting: The looming legalization of sports gambling. Owners had an informational session based on a study the league ran, much of it focused on regulation, not monetization.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 27, 2018
Again, that would apparently be different from the NBA and MLB, which have been attempting to directly monetize sports betting through new legislation.
It’s not at all clear what the NFL would like to see out of any legislation. But it remains publicly committed only to integrity issues as it relates to wagering.
Changing its tune on sports betting?
This is the second straight time that Goodell has been confronted with questions about sports betting and didn’t revert back to the league saying it opposes sports betting in any form. That has been its stance for most of its existence (even after the league decided to move the Raiders to Las Vegas.)
That appears to be a tip of the hat to the idea that the NFL doesn’t expect wagering to remain illegal outside of Nevada. Would the NFL still lobby against its legalization around the country? That also seems less likely given Goodell’s latest talking points.
Most of what Goodell said today was pretty vague. But what he didn’t say is perhaps more telling.