Sep 6, 2019 - Sports

The NFL's slow embrace of sports betting

Reproduced from American Gaming Association; Graphic: Axios Visuals
Reproduced from American Gaming Association; Graphic: Axios Visuals

It's been 15 months since the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which cleared the way for states to legalize sports betting.

Driving the news: In that time, the number of states with some form of legal sports betting has grown to 13 — and the NFL is slowly warming up to it. This season, the league has a full-fledged casino partner (Caesars) and an official data distributor (Sportradar) for the first time.

The big picture: The NFL's current broadcast rights deals with CBS, NBC, Fox and ESPN all expire in 2022, which could make sports betting a key part of any future negotiations.

  • "The value of television, of presenting our games, I dare say it will go up 50% because of [sports betting]," said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, referencing the fact that people are more likely to watch a game if they bet on it.
  • "Gambling boosts future rights fees mostly because the next potential generation of broadcasters (particularly Amazon & Apple) are the best in the world at payment systems ( 1 click, micropayments) and can facilitate on screen betting better than anyone else," tweeted The Action Network's Darren Rovell.

The other side: While sports betting is poised to play a role in the NFL's future, it won't radically reshape how you watch games, at least not this year.

  • NBC's telecasts will feature "somewhat isolated" sports betting references, Fox will mention it on-air only "if our announcers can organically work it in," and ESPN execs said there were "no plans to discuss gambling," per NYT.

🎙 Go deeper: On yesterday's Axios Pro Rata Podcast, my colleague Dan Primack discussed the future of legalized sports betting with DraftKings co-founder and CEO Jason Robins. Give it a listen.

Go deeper