NFL Allows Casinos with Sportsbooks to Advertise on Broadcasts

NFL Sportsbook Advertising Policies

The policy change could mean the Las Vegas Raiders play in MGM Resorts Stadium or Caesars Palace Colisseum.

The NFL’s Business Ventures Committee passed a rule during a league meeting on Monday which allows casinos which operate legal sportsbooks to sign sponsorship deals with NFL teams. Casinos will not be able to advertise their sportsbooks directly through their team sponsorships, but they can advertise during game telecasts and “in shoulder programming”, a term for pre-game and post-game shows.

According to SportsBusiness Daily’s Bill King, the amended policy also allows casinos with sportsbooks to negotiate naming-rights deals with NFL franchises.

King stated the naming rights policy change is “mostly in play for the Las Vegas-bound Raiders.”

If the NFL front office signs off on the policy, it means that MGM Grand, Las Vegas Sands, or Caesars Palace could name the billion-dollar Las Vegas football stadium, which is still under construction. Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas Sands began as one of the chief investors in a Las Vegas sports stadium, but eventually pulled out of the deal after disputes with other developers.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Betting Ban

The new pro-sportsbook NFL policy is a far cry from the National Football League’s decades-long stance on football. The NFL was one of five U.S. sports associations which sued the state of New Jersey to assure Monmouth Park and William Hill could not open a legal sportsbook.

That lawsuit turned into Murphy v. NCAA, the landmark US Supreme Court case which struck down a federal ban on sports betting in 46 states. Before the repeal of PASPA, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was the staunchest of all pro sports league commissioners against the legalization of sports betting.

English Premier League Sponsorships

Now the NFL not only will tolerate sports betting but condone and encourage it. American professional sports leagues appear ready to follow the lead of the English Premier League (EPL) and La Liga, which receive a great deal of their sponsorship cash from British bookmakers and casino brands. At last count, 17 of 20 top Spanish football clubs had corporate sponsorships from gaming groups.

While the NFL does not appear ready to have advertising on jerseys the way the EPL or La Liga does, the first step is to allow sports betting ads in NFL broadcasts. It will be an interesting test balloon to see how American sports viewers react. In 2015, the massive wave of DraftKings and FanDuel daily fantasy sports commercials on TV and the Internet led to a backlash. US politicians, federal attorneys, late night talk shows hosts, and team fans disliked the large number of DFS ads.

Australian Bookmaker Ads

The same has happened in other countries. In Australia, bookmaker sites advertised all over rugby, soccer, and cricket matches. When Tom Waterhouse appeared on NRL rugby broadcasts to discuss wagering information, it was a bridge too far. Eventually, Aussie lawmakers banned sports betting ads in Australian sport broadcasts — because parents disliked the ads appearing while their children were watching.

More recently, the Italian parliament banned gaming sponsorships for Italian football clubs. Serie A franchise owners complained that the ban on sports betting sponsorships would cost clubs an estimated total of $300 million a year. The club owners also noted the lost revenues could harm investments in the youth clubs that drive Assosication football’s massive talent cultivation.

NFL Billion-Dollar Sportsbook Policy

If casino and sportsbook ads are worth $300 million in Italy, then such advertisements might be worth 5x to 10x that amount to a U.S. sports league. That explains why the NFL is willing to change its longstanding position on sports betting.

With the most hardline American sports league against sports betting willing to create bylaws to foster sportsbook-related corporate sponsorships, exect to see the other leagues follow suit in short order. It will be interesting to see if the NBA or MLB go further than the NFL policy.

The new NFL policy on sports betting was quite limited as such things go, only saying, “Teams will be able to accept advertising from casinos and daily fantasy sites that operate sportsbooks in shoulder programming and during preseason game telecasts.”

States with Legal Sports Betting

As more states legalize sports betting, the NFL, NBA, NHL, and Major League Baseball likely will get more comfortable with the prospect. Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and Mississippi are the only states that legalized single-game sports bets at the moment.

Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, and West Virginia all passed bills in the last two years with resolutions to legalize sports betting within state borders, if the US Supreme Court struck down PASPA. So far, none of those four states have moved to legalize sportsbooks in their states. Michigan and Illinois also periodically are rumored to be considering legal land-based sportsbooks, too.

The NFL sees the proverbial writing on the wall, which is why the NFL Business Ventures Committee changed the league’s stance on sports betting this week.¬†Whatever the case, it might not be long before you hear an NFL broadcast which begins with, “You are looking live from Las Vegas Sands Arena in beautiful downtown Las Vegas.”