You can bet your bottom dollar the NFL will push for top dollar on league-related gambling now that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 on Monday to overturn the longtime ban on sports gambling everywhere outside Nevada.
The league will no doubt want to study the NBA's idea of taking 1 percent of all bets on its games. It's also a good bet the league will want to maximize in-stadium prop betting to give fans more incentive to attend games. And if you're tired of those endless Cialis commercials, well, just imagine NFL game day when the league is permitted to partner with casinos.
But first things first. The NFL's statement on Monday. It indicates just how concerned the league is about looking clean once normalized gambling opens the mud-gates of a potentially dirtier era.
"The NFL's long-standing and unwavering commitment to protecting the integrity of our game remains absolute," the statement reads. "Congress has long-recognized the potential harms posed by sports betting to the integrity of sporting contests and the public confidence in these events. Given that history, we intend to call on Congress again, this time to enact a core regulatory framework for legalized sports betting. We also will work closely with our clubs to ensure that any state efforts that move forward in the meantime protect our fans and the integrity of our game."
There is so much left to process before the league can monetize gambling on its product. For starters, legalized sports gambling is now a state matter, and it's likely that not every state with an NFL team is going to legalize it.
The NFL isn’t alone in it’s concerns. The NFL Players' Association issued a statement that read:
"The Supreme Court's decision [Monday] reaffirms our decision to collaborate with the other sports unions on the issues of player of player safety, integrity of our games and privacy and publicity rights. Our union will monitor developments closely and address the implications of this decision with the NFL, state legislators and other relevant stakeholders."
That statement also indicates a fear that normalized gambling will deliver a Chuck Norris-
Walker-Texas-Ranger-sized roundhouse kick to the integrity of the game.
And, frankly, in a league that has had its share of "[Fill in the blank]-gate" moments, who can blame anyone for being a little frightened about what lies ahead?
Yes, it's true that illegal gambling always has been a big part of professional sports, especially the NFL. But the league used to publicly distance itself from and discourage others from gambling. It never embraced it the way we've seen in recent times with Jerry Jones and other owners investing fantasy sports betting.
And now, just imagine the potential perception pitfalls that await if/when the league actually partners with legalized gambling. Right or wrong, everything from questionable injury reports on Wednesday to the safety whiffing on a winning walk-off touchdown on Sunday will be scrutinized through a more skeptical lens.
On Monday, the NFL called for backup – Congress – in the battle to stay clean even if things start to look dirty.