Conversations at the annual NFL owners meetings could be another sign that legalized sports betting will soon become a reality in the U.S. According to media reports, the NFL has reached out to its owners about the possibility, and impacts, of regulated wagering. The league has largely avoided conversations about gambling but may be forced to address the issue should states be allowed to legalize it.
Last year the Supreme Court heard arguments in Christie vs the NCAA, where representatives from New Jersey argued the state should be allowed to legalize sports gambling. Then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie directed the state to challenge the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, the 1992 legislation that enacted a federal ban on sports betting.
Clearly, the New Jersey gaming officials are confident they will win their case; so much so that the New Jersey Division of Gambling has started encouraging all its potential sportsbooks to secure gambling licenses. Casinos and race tracks including Monmouth Park and Borgata have already begun construction on Las Vegas-style sportsbooks.
The owner of Monmouth Park, considered one of the top racetracks the world, has dumped millions into his faculty. Other states are also preparing for a change to the law. In recent weeks, states including Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have all passed bills allowing sports gambling should they lift the federal ban.
While the NFL has not publicly come out in support of sports gambling, it may join the NBA and MLB in advocating for an “integrity fee”. The one percent charge proposed by MLB and the NBA would be levied on states’ revenues and ultimately returned to the respective leagues.
Though the ramifications of legalized gambling, should it be passed, aren’t fully determined, reports indicate the NFL is looking to maximize any potential revenue. Still, the league is not expected to publically discuss legal sports betting until after the Supreme Court announces its decision, which could come as early as April 2.
Billions of dollars are spent annually in illegal U.S. sports gambling. For instance, take the NCAA Tournament currently going on where Americans find a way to wager upwards of $4 billion on the games despite there being no legal frame work for that wagering anywhere but in the state of Nevada.
Opponents of legalized gambling cite negative impacts on children as well as adults with gambling disorders yet rarely speak of the economic benefits. Proponents say it will provide a safer environment for the millions of Americans who already gamble and will offer revenue opportunities for state governments.
It would seem, based on the information coming out of the media at this year's owners' meeting, whether the NFL supports legalized sports betting in the United states or not, they better be prepared for it's potential regulation as it seems all be inevitable at this point that Americans will soon be betting on the National Football League.