NFL COO: Legal Sports Betting ‘Next Level of Fan Engagement’

NFL COO: Legal Sports Betting ‘Next Level of Fan Engagement’

BOSTON – The National Football League’s chief operating officer predicted that legal sports betting would drastically alter how fans consume and engage with sports during a panel discussion on building data-driven organizations at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference on Friday.

Maryann Turcke told that she believes legal sports betting "will create a little bit of an adjacent thing to do besides the game that will improve engagement over time."

Turcke, appearing on a panel with Ticketmaster president Amy Howe, Boston Celtics assistant general manager Mike Zarren and Kraft Analytics Group CEO Jessica Gelman, said legal sports gambling would elevate the importance of collecting and leveraging data "to a whole new level."

“It’s going to change a lot,” Turcke told after the session concluded. “I think it’s the next level of fan engagement, for sure.

“As we think about that from the NFL perspective, job one is protecting the integrity of our game. But what I was referring to there is what are the data streams that are going to inform how people bet on certain things and just the technical aspect of all that, latency, speed, and all that to make sure its accurate so we can make sure we can protect consumers and protect our game.”

NFL Prefers Federal Legislation or ‘Broad Guidelines’

Turcke stressed that the NFL continues to prefer federal sports betting legislation or at least “broad guidelines with the states working under it” instead of the current scenario in which states are free to enact their own laws after the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act last May.

The NFL stance mirrors that of the other major North American professional leagues in supporting a mandate for official league data as the source of wagering information.

“We believe [sports betting] will engage certain fans on a deeper level for sure,” she said. “Our primary focus as a league is protecting the integrity of the game, compliance and making sure that no one is doing anything that would alter the game because of sports betting.”

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