The National Football League (NFL) has long tried to keep itself at arm length from sports betting. Everyone knows sports betting helps the league, but the league itself has never wanted to admit it publicly. With the reversal of PASPA by the U.S. Supreme Court last week, the NFL still hasn’t admitted to liking sports betting, but it has admitted it has been preparing for this day. In a statement on Monday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that he and the league want federal regulation of sports gambling and laid out what he wants from legislation.
As always, Goodell talks about the “integrity of our sport,” as if sports betting finally being legal across the U.S. (pending state laws, of course) is going to make things worse than it already being legal in Europe and other parts of the world and it already existing in black market form in the United States. Here is his complete statement, published on the league’s website:
As it was for my predecessors, there is no greater priority for me as the Commissioner of the National Football League than protecting the integrity of our sport. Our fans, our players and our coaches deserve to know that we are doing everything possible to ensure no improper influences affect how the game is played on the field. This week’s ruling by the Supreme Court has no effect on that unwavering commitment.
We have spent considerable time planning for the potential of broadly legalized sports gambling and are prepared to address these changes in a thoughtful and comprehensive way, including substantial education and compliance trainings for our clubs, players, employees and partners. These efforts include supporting commonsense legislation that protects our players, coaches and fans and maintains public confidence in our games. We are asking Congress to enact uniform standards for states that choose to legalize sports betting that include, at a minimum, four core principles:
1. There must be substantial consumer protections;
2. Sports leagues can protect our content and intellectual property from those who attempt to steal or misuse it;
3. Fans will have access to official, reliable league data; and
4. Law enforcement will have the resources, monitoring and enforcement tools necessary to protect our fans and penalize bad actors here at home and abroad.
It’s all pretty straight-forward, though the second and third points are interesting. According to ESPN.com, this is where the NFL is going to try to profit off of sports betting. The NBA, PGA Tour, and MLB have been talking to state lawmakers about an “integrity fee,” where sports books would hand over 1 percent of all wagers (they have since lowered their request to a quarter of a percent) to the leagues. It’s a rip-off and hopefully state legislatures won’t go for it, but that’s what the leagues want.
The NFL, according to ESPN’s Don Van Natta, wants the sports books to pay for the rights to statistical data and video. It’s almost as if it sees the other leagues looking like the bad guys, so it’s opting for a line that looks more reasonable. Thing is, getting paid for data might be the more profitable route for the NFL.