The NFL is rife with hypocrisy. We know this. Whether it is the league’s attitude towards player safety, its handling of discipline, or its use of the military to promote the sport, the league is pretty much full of shit these days (but I can’t stop watching, Go Pack Go). Another issue in which the NFL wants to make it think it’s one way when it’s the other: gambling. And wouldn’t you know it, according to a report by ESPN.com’s David Purdum and Darren Rovell, the two most prominent owners in the game are going to keep right on owning a portion of daily fantasy sports leader and up-and-coming bookmaker, DraftKings.
The two owners, Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys and Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots, reportedly own less than five percent each of DraftKings. Jones has tried to distance himself from the investment by saying (through a Cowboys’ spokesperson), that the ownership is DraftKings is actually through Legends hospitality company as opposed to his football team.
Now look, I have absolutely no problem with Kraft, Jones, or any other owner also having a stake in a gambling concern. They aren’t the only ones and they are invested much less than others in gambling. What I have a problem with is how the NFL and its owners – since the beginning of time – have bemoaned how gambling can harm the “integrity of the game” while they know full well that they make gazillions of dollars indirectly through gambling and fantasy sports. They would not have anywhere close to the number of viewers or interest in the league were it not for people who had some money on the games or fantasy players to watch. The NFL and its owners LOVE gambling, but put on the façade of believing it’s the root of all sports evil.
Lest anyone think that owning a gaming firm is against the rules, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told ESPN that it is cool as long as the company that is owned earns less than a third of its revenue from gambling. Since DraftKings is primarily a daily fantasy sports site, something that is not considered gambling, that all works for now. The thing is, though, that DraftKings intends to significantly ramp up its sports betting operations in the next few years as sports gambling legalization spreads throughout the United States. In fact, sports betting may become a larger part of the company than daily fantasy.
DraftKings became the first to offer mobile sports betting in New Jersey on August 1st, piggy-backing off of the license of its partner Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. Resorts itself opened a brick-and-mortar sportsbook inside the casino a couple weeks ago, though it is not related to DraftKings’ mobile offering. The big test for DraftKings and its sports gambling competitors starts this week, as the college football season begins, with the cash cow NFL getting underway next week.