According to numbers compiled by Nielsen Sports, the league should expect $2.3 billion in annual growth from advertisements, sponsorships, and data related to sports betting.
The American Gaming Association (AGA) commissioned the poll of more than 1,000 adults, which factors in their current and projected betting habits. The survey analyzed all prospective revenue streams, including increased consumption of the league’s media and products.
Sports betting = sports growth
The results are no surprise, matching several studies that draw a parallel between betting and fan engagement in sports. And just anecdotally, sports bettors figure to be more avid sports consumers, despite what one NFL owner thinks.
Here’s Sara Slane, senior vice president of public affairs for the AGA:
Legal, regulated sports betting will create huge new revenue opportunities for sports leagues — and the NFL could be the biggest winner of all. Once legal sports betting expands across the country, the NFL could take in more than $2 billion a year, reinforcing how much sports leagues stand to gain from increased viewership and private partnerships with sports betting operators.
According to the survey, the sports betting industry itself would drive $573 million in direct revenue to the league:
- Advertising: $451 million
- Sponsorship: $92 million
- Data: $30 million
That last number is the subject of some debate, as no operator has so far agreed to pay the NFL for its official data.
As lawmakers have pointed out, sports betting provides much larger corollary benefits to fan engagement. The survey projects $1.75 billion in additional revenue from associated media rights, sponsorships, merchandise and ticket sales. That number would represent an increase of more than 13 percent.
Can the NFL get out of its own way?
As the largest, most popular sports league in the US, the NFL certainly is in the catbird seat to profit from widespread betting. It is, however, not quite up to speed with the expanding industry. For example, its existing policy precludes players from attending events hosted or sponsored by casinos.
That being said, some NFL stakeholders are working to carry the league into the modern era.
Sports Business Daily recently reported that a committee of owners approved relaxed rules when it comes to gambling promotion. Teams will now be allowed to partner with casinos, and gaming companies can even bid for stadium naming rights. That option is very much in play for the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders, who will play home games across from the Las Vegas Strip.
When it comes to using sports betting as a tool for fan engagement and revenue, the NBA is the one leading the way.
The pro basketball league recently formed its first alliance with a casino company, agreeing to promote MGM as its official gaming partner. The reported $25 million deal is relatively small, but it does give the NBA its first taste of casino sponsorship money.
Should the NFL decide to welcome such a partnership, there’s no doubt it would have a higher ceiling than the NBA. Just how eager Commissioner Roger Goodell is do to that, however, remains to be seen.