The NFL appears to be recovering quite well from the damaging effects of legal US sports betting.
The league announced Thursday it will partner with three prominent sportsbooks in the United States:
The NFL becomes the last of the four major US professional sports leagues to add sports betting partnerships. In a press release, the league referred to the three books as “tri-exclusive” partners.
NFL reverses course on sports betting
It should come as little surprise that the Shield held out longer than other leagues in openly embracing legal sports betting.
Commissioner Roger Goodell forcefully opposed the legalization of sports betting for years as the NFL joined with other pro leagues to fight New Jersey‘s challenge to PASPA. The league also refused to allow Las Vegas or its casinos to advertise during the Super Bowl.
Here is Goodell discussing legal wagering in 2012:
“It’s a very strongly held view in the NFL, it has been for decades, that the threat that gambling could occur in the NFL or fixing of games or that any outcome could be influenced by the outside could be very damaging to the NFL and very difficult to ever recover from.”
Goodell softened his tone only slightly in 2017 upon owners approving the move of the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas:
“Society in general has a little bit of a change with respect to gambling in general. We’ve seen that. I think we still strongly oppose legalized sports gambling. The integrity of our game is No. 1. We will not compromise on that.”
The NFL compromised on that
NFL betting drives sports wagering revenue throughout the United States through the legal market, as well as the illegal offshore and bookie ecosystems.
This is true throughout the regular season and playoffs, but especially for the Super Bowl. The league’s crown jewel draws the largest handle for a single-day sporting event in the United States.
Given those realities, the NFL’s resistance to betting felt unnatural before PASPA fell. And it seemed downright impossible to fathom in the past three years.
“As the sports betting landscape has continued to evolve in the United States, we have been thoughtful with our strategy and are excited to announce three partners who share the NFL’s vision and goals,” said Renie Anderson, Chief Revenue Officer and Executive Vice President of NFL Partnerships. “Working closely with Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel, we will provide fans new and different ways of interacting and engaging with the sport they love.”
How the sports betting deals differ
The league set out the terms of each partner’s role in its release:
- All books “will have the right to integrate relevant sports betting content directly into NFL Media properties including NFL.com and the NFL App.” Each will use the NFL official league data feed as well. Both DraftKings and FanDuel “will enhance their fan experiences with NFL highlights, footage and Next Gen Stats content.”
- Caesars “will collaborate on integrating NFL content into Caesars platforms as well.” The deal also lets Caesars “create tentpole activations at key NFL events including, the 2022 Pro Bowl and 2022 NFL Draft in Las Vegas. The extended agreement also encompasses Caesars online iGaming applications.”
- DraftKings, already the league’s DFS partner, continues “integrations across NFL Media properties including a continued prominent presence within the NFL RedZone channel.”
- FanDuel gets “a series of content integrations including both in-game and post-game highlights directly available within its sportsbook and fantasy sports platforms.” It also receives access to league footage and an integration into seven NFL Network pregame broadcasts.
What the sportsbooks are saying
Tom Reeg, CEO of Caesars, highlighted diverse consumption options:
“Together, we will create new ways for football fans to share in the action of their favorite sport. Football season will be more exciting than ever now that fans can enjoy an enhanced experience at our casinos, in our sportsbooks, and online.”
Jason Robins, co-founder of DraftKings, focused on innovation:
“The way fans consume sports years from now will look drastically different, and it will be due in part to forward-thinking collaborations like our expanded relationship with the NFL today as an Official Sports Betting and Exclusive Daily Fantasy Sports Partner.
“We share the same vision as the NFL on fan engagement and believe this agreement will lead to new innovations that will ultimately enhance both the product on the field and on the screen.”
“On Super Bowl Sunday we got a glimpse at how powerful the combination of the NFL’s excitement and our platform can be in delivering an enhanced fan experience. We are delighted to make that combination official by pairing America’s market share leading sportsbook with America’s favorite sports league.
“This partnership provides our shared customers with a new level of innovation and unmatched premium content directly within our platform ultimately enhancing every gameday.”