The NFL has long opposed an expansion of legal sports gambling. But the Supreme Court may rule that the federal law that limits sports gambling to Nevada is unconstitutional, which could lead to a huge expansion in betting on football. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league will be ready for that.
Goodell said this morning on ESPN Radio that the most important priority for the NFL is maintaining the integrity of competition, and that if legal gambling is expanded across America, that will remain the NFL’s priority.
“To me it’s very clear, which is about the integrity of the game. You don’t want to do anything that’s going to impact negatively on the integrity of our game. You want to be certain that there are no outside influences on our game and that fans don’t even have any issues on that. They understand whether there’s a perception or not that there’s no influence on our game. That’s something that we stand firmly behind, the integrity of our game. We see changes going on, obviously. I don’t think 10 years ago people saw an NFL franchise or NHL franchise in Las Vegas. Clearly, there are changes occurring. The Supreme Court is considering changes, potentially, in laws with respect to gambling across our country, and I think we’re going to be prepared as a league to address that no matter how the Supreme Court comes out and how things evolve. We’re going to protect the integrity of the game, I assure you of that,” Goodell said.
But there’s no reason the integrity of the game can’t be protected with people legally gambling on NFL games across America. If anything, making sports gambling legal and regulated might make it easier to ensure no one is illegally influencing the game on the field than the current system, where most money bet on NFL games is bet illegally. Officially, the NFL continues to oppose the expansion of gambling, but as the NBA embraces gambling, it’s beginning to sound like the NFL is sticking a toe in those waters as well.