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Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The NFL is embracing sports betting this season in ways that it never would before the Supreme Court legalized the activity across the nation in 2018.

Why it matters: Last September, the NFL called for Congress to step in and regulate legalized sports betting. This September, the NFL is opening its season with a full-fledged casino partner (Caesars) and an official data distributor (Sportradar) for the first time ever.

The big picture: The stark change in the league's positioning isn't coincidental. Sports betting is progressing across the country whether the NFL is ready or not.

  • The timing: 13 states have legalized sports betting in 15 months with 6 NFL teams (Colts, Steelers, Eagles, Bills, Giants, Jets) playing in those states.
  • The league is projected to make $2.3 billion annually from sports betting, per the American Gaming Association.
  • "The NFL has typically been a little more cautious than some of the other leagues, but I think they recognize what sports betting means in terms of fan engagement," Bill Miller, AGA president, says.

The other side: The NFL's picture isn't quite as rosy, the New York Times reports.

You can’t even predict which states will legalize when and under what constructs, and what the U.S. sports book market will look like, or the advertising market.
— NFL executive Christopher Halpin, per NYT

The bottom line: The NFL is embracing sports betting, but we still don't know exactly how much the league wants it as part of its future. As the market stabilizes, that picture will become clearer.

Go deeper: Sports leagues struggle to deal with data

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Sep 7, 2021 - Sports

Farewell, paper tickets

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Tickets were once mementos — physical items soaked in memories and nostalgia, tucked away in attics and scrapbooks. They are now barcodes on our phones.

By the numbers: 98% of NFL fans used mobile tickets during preseason games this summer, according to the league. That's up from 67% in 2019.

Updated 54 mins ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. faces urgent anti-hacker crisis

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The Biden administration is accelerating efforts to fill nearly 600,000 vacant cybersecurity positions in the public and private sectors bogging down efforts to protect digital infrastructure.

Why it matters: Following a deluge of ransomware attacks targeting critical government and corporate infrastructure this year, clogs in the talent pipeline are leaving federal, cash-strapped local governments and Big Business even more susceptible to hacking.

Mike Allen, author of AM
6 hours ago - World

Courage vs. coddling with China

Peng Shuai of China serves during the China Open in Beijing in 2017. Photo: Andy Wong/AP

The women's professional tennis tour suspended tournaments in China Wednesday out of concern for Peng Shuai, on the same day that a top business voice made excuses for Beijing.

Why it matters: Ahead of February's Winter Olympics in Beijing, some sports figures are taking on the regime — while Big Business shrinks from confrontation with the world's second-largest economy.