Money never sleeps, correct? Well, the sun never sets on the sports-betting empire, either. What, there are no games right now? Recently, Bovada started allowing action junkies to place bets on the weather — that’s right, over/under wagers on the high temperature of, say, Philadelphia.*
Gambling never sleeps.
Which immediately brings us to Roger Goodell, the man who pimps for the NFL at $40 million-plus per annum and a man who probably sleeps in his Armani suit to remind himself that there is moolah to be made every day and twice on Sundays.
While America snoozed during the early days of the coronavirus crisis in mid-March, NFL players approved the new collective-bargaining agreement with league owners through 2030. And in that CBA, the NFL — that beacon of morality fighting against the point spread since the days before Pete Rozelle turned 21 — reached an accord with its players to share gambling revenue.
Before we get back to that betting blockbuster, let’s briefly review the current NFL commissioner’s public-stance history vis-à-vis gambling.
Ooh, this is going to be fun!
In 2003, Goodell and the NFL would not allow the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau to run a 30-second commercial promoting the city’s tourism during the Super Bowl.
In 2009, Goodell wrote a letter to then-Delaware Gov. Jack Markell in protest of his state’s effort to renew its NFL betting lottery, saying, “By legalizing sports betting it will be in Delaware’s interest to create ever larger numbers of new gamblers as the state attempts to maximize any revenue found in this promotion. The negative social impact of additional gambling cannot be minimized in a community.”
In 2012, as the NFL challenged efforts by New Jersey to legalize sports gambling, Goodell said, “It’s a very strongly held view in the NFL, it has been for decades, that the threat that gambling could occur in the NFL or fixing of games or that any outcome could be influenced by the outside could be very damaging to the NFL and very difficult to ever recover from.”
In 2017, after league owners voted to approve the Raiders’ move from Oakland to Las Vegas, Goodell said, “Society in general has a little bit of a change with respect to gambling in general. We’ve seen that. I think we still strongly oppose legalized sports gambling. The integrity of our game is No. 1. We will not compromise on that.”
And now, in 2020, Goodell, during a visit to Las Vegas, said, “We think that sports gambling in many ways creates a lot more engagement for our fans. It gives them another opportunity to engage with the game.”
Oh, my goodness, oh, my goodness, Roger Goodell is a BORN-AGAIN GAMBLER!
How did this happen? Well, a Supreme Court ruling nearly two years ago opened the door for states to allow sports betting, and the Raiders begin play in Las Vegas this fall, so, suddenly, the NFL stance is: Let’s roll the dice and join the party!!!
Which brings us back to the new CBA. David Purdum of espn.com reported last week that the agreement refers to revenue from” gambling on any aspect of NFL games, any performance of NFL players in NFL games or in any other NFL/Club-related activity.” Owners and players will share revenues, the CBA states, generated “by the operation of gambling-related businesses located in or physically attached to an NFL Stadium.”
It even mentions potential profits from slot machines “located in or physically attached to an NFL Stadium.”
I’ll let you all absorb that for a moment or two.
After generations of stonewalling and bad-mouthing sports betting, the NFL now embraces gambling as long as the league gets its cut. Seventeen states, including seven that are home to NFL teams, already operate legal sports books.
Sooner or later, fans will be placing bets on NFL games while in NFL stadiums.
P.S. The NFL reportedly also is looking to hire a “vice president of sports betting.”
I am available, but I do not work weekends.
(* Pro tip: It’s always going to be hotter than you think in Philly in the summer and colder than you think in the winter.)