Goodell explains why NFL has no issues with daily fantasy


The NFL consistently fights any effort to expand gambling on its games. The NFL has no qualms whatsoever about gambling on its players.

The easy explanation is that it’s not gambling, because Congress decided in 2006 that it’s not gambling. But since most people realize that, regardless of the name, it really is gambling, the NFL has now tried to cobble together an explanation more nuanced than, “Congress says it’s not gambling.”

“[I]t’s hard to see the influence that it could have on the outcome of a game because individual players are picking different players from different teams, mashing them up, you might call it,” Goodell told reporters on Wednesday. “[I]t’s not based on the outcome of a game, which is what our biggest concern is with sports betting.”

So, basically, when the thing that is the subject of the wager is sufficiently blended and absorbed within the structure of the league’s games so as not to hinge on the outcome of a given game, wagering is fine.

Which means that the NFL should now have no problem with any of the various prop bets that are unrelated to the outcome of a game — including the very popular betting on the total points scored in a game, also known as the “over-under.” If the individual points scored by a given player don’t matter to the outcome, the total points scored by both teams don’t matter, either. All that matters is who wins the game and by how many points.

The broader point here is that the NFL has opened Pandora’s Box by embracing daily fantasy. With one seemingly innocuous response from Goodell on Wednesday, the league’s arguments against most other forms of wagering based on football games instantly have been gutted. The only legitimate barrier that remains is wagering on the winner of the game, with application of the point spread.

But even that argument isn’t very legitimate, since betting against the spread is as much as a game of skill as playing daily fantasy.

104 responses to “Goodell explains why NFL has no issues with daily fantasy

  1. Let’s be really honest.

    The NFL will support fantasy football because they can make alot of money off it. They have been promoting it on their website for years, hell they have hours, upon hours upon hours of programming dedicated to fantasy football.

    The day sports gambling is fully legalized the NFL network will have at least 8 hours/week devoted to talking about spreads.

  2. When Bill Cowher is grading DraftKing’s fantasy lineup on their pregame show….seems a little too close doesn’t it? I just find it odd. Hail.

  3. It’s gambling and only a moron would think otherwise. Let’s face it, at least half of the NFL’s weekly audience is watching because they have some form of action going on. The NFL needs gambling.

  4. According to an article on Deadspin, the NFL sent a lobbyist to work out of the Bush Whitehouse to ensure the fantasy sports provision was tacked onto a Homeland Security port bill. As soon as the bill was signed, the day before Bush left, the lobbyist returned to his job with a law firm representing the NFL. Inside job from the get-go.

  5. Kraft is making too much money as a key investor in these sites, so they won’t do anything.

  6. Nonsense.

    A big time gambler in a big money league who is up against a single opponent could bribe that opponents key player to tank in a game just as easily as a gambler could pay a player to try and lose.

    All sports gambling should be legal. Legal gambling is actually much LESS likely to be corrupt than the illegal gambling that goes on.

    The NFL opposes gambling because they could never make money off it. The couldn’t invest in the casinos the way they can in Fantasy.


  7. I have never gotten into fantasy football and despise “fans” of the game that confuse knowledge of fantasy football equals knowledge of actual football (ever time a poster uses the term “dink and dunk” negatively you know they are that type of “fan”) but, what is the issue here?

    Everyone knows why the NFL doesn’t just accept fantasy, it loves it: it generate more interest in the game and makes them more money. Simple as that.

    I have no idea what the nfl’s position is against sports wagering (you seem to suggest here that they are against it). Yes, fantasy football for money is betting, but its hard to see how it negatively impacts the NFL’s real concern about betting, the perception that wagering on individual games could lead to someone affecting the outcome of the game.

  8. So if you have a DB and WR on the take they couldn’t “fix” the game? Granted it’s a long way to winning a big jackpot on FanDuel but let’s not pretend.

  9. I believe the NFL has part ownership in these sites and is concealing that fact. Whether its massive licensing fees or some other agreement, the league is making big money from this and its being hidden from the fans

  10. Draft Duel, Fan Kings et al could easily influence the outcome of games and the “action” taken on individual players… But it ain’t gambling.


  11. Yeah Roger..It won’t impact the outcome of games..Who cares about the impact on a family when someone develops a gambling problem….It’s coming; same as people have sued casinos, and won, for facilitating their gambling addiction..Some is going to lose their house, sue, and win..I’m not a lawyer, but it is easy to see the irresponsibility and liability of the NFL through daily fantasy..

  12. Fantasy sports increase interest in the game which increases revenue. Fantasy has made people who normally just watch when their team is on watch all day so they can see how their players are doing. Once again Goodell is doing what he was hired to do; make the owners money. I will admit, he sucks when it comes to discipline but he is darn good at this aspect of it. I know it often becomes fun to bash someone we don’t like, even when they’re right (happens every day with politics) but it’s off base here.

  13. We all know that Fantasy is a way to keep fans interested in places like Cleveland, Oakland, Jacksonville,Tampa Bay, Washington etc. where the on field product has been so bad for so long that people need another reason to watch.

    The NFL thought they could maintain interest by bringing parity to the league with things the inverted draft order, unbalanced schedule, free agency and the salary cap. Instead they created an environment where good management was rewarded and bad management punished. Since bad management usually starts with the owner, there’s no good way to fix it.

  14. The exploitation of these stupid daily fantasy leagues could very well spell the end for regular fantasy football and the NFL if they aren’t smart enough to realize how bad the collusion looks when every commercial break there’s another NFL-sponsored advertisement for DFL.

    Sure seems to me like the NFL is playing legal fire that’s going to bite them pretty hard in the butt

  15. My junior high school son managed to sign up for an account at each of the big fantasy sites. He’s 13. All his junior high school buddies have accounts as well.
    The NFL is in denial pretending that these ventures are not gambling……these kids are hooked….winning and losing $$$$$.
    Goodell needs to be fired now

  16. and just earlier this week Roger Goodell was emphasizing ” the integrity of the game” .. what a total knuckle head, how can someone this dumbfounded be the CEO of a billion dollar successful organization

  17. Roger just paid Kraft back a little bit for going against him on deflategate. He’s also paying Jerry Jones back for his support during that same process. Nice when you can support two large investors in a gambling operation who are also your bosses. Too many people underestimate good old Roger.

  18. Good Lord it’s gambling. I’ve got zero problems with gambling, but call it what it is. If you want to allow it, fine. I wouldn’t have let my 5-year-olds get away with this BS.

  19. It’s clearly gambling. I think everyone agrees. Some level of regulation is needed. Instead of going on a witch hunt and trying to bring down daily fantasy, how about the focus shift to allowing more legalized gambling. Yes, there are addictive people out there that doing so would harm, but you’ll also find them at the Native American casino or at the bingo parlor or buying 40 Powerball tickets after paying for groceries with food stamps or standing in front of you buying a ridiculous assortment of scratch-off tickets while holding up the line at the gas station counter. There are alcoholics and smokers too. It’s a free country.

  20. The reporter should have asked Roger the following question: Did Roger play the Seattle Defense Monday evening in his free Fan Duel daily game entry?

  21. “But even that argument isn’t very legitimate, since betting against the spread is as much as a game of skill as playing daily fantasy.”

    ^This, exactly this. The NFL’s real concern with gambling influencing outcome should primarily be the money line, meaning wagering on wins and losses. Since it is legal in one state the risk of undue influence exists, as we all know in the eyes of the league illegal gambling doesn’t exist so therefore it is not up for discussion. It is ridiculous that sports wagering isn’t legal nationally. Currently the money that changes hands outside of Nevada is not only untaxed but it enriches the criminal element. Legalize it, regulate it and tax it.

  22. Daily fantasy drives fans to NFL Sunday Ticket and RedZone, so make no mistake the NFL is profiting directly from ScamDuel and GriftKings — sites that we now know use inside information to rip off their users.

    Of course, fans on these sites are betting on the work put out by the athletes, but the players receive no compensation for it. And all the while the league profits handily.

    I get it, players get paid a lot, but they are still workers whose work is being stolen. Not to mention most of the fans playing on these sites are workers and their hard-earned pay is being systematically lifted from them.

    The casinos… er, I mean, the owners… always win!

  23. Daily Fantasy is taking over the world, Florio. There’s nothing you can do about it, there’s nothing I can do about it, it just is what it is. Don’t fight it.

    There are basically 3 eras of pro football:

    *The pre-forward pass era & the post-forward pass era
    *The pre-merger era & the post-merger Super Bowl era
    *The pre-DailyFantasy era & the post-DailyFantasy era

  24. Yup, like any overreaching empire,sit back and watch the decline and fall of the NFL. We’ve all seen the tyranny,madness and corruption of the league office, the attempts at over expansion to Europe, the naked greed of the owners and players,the ridiculous rules and poor refereeing and now the embrace of gambling as part of the whole experience.

  25. The over/under is not the same as daily fantasy. Individual player stats don’t matter when you mash up 9 players mostly from different teams/games. Player props where you bet a lot of money on one single player to do something (over/under yards, catches, score/not score) isn’t the same because you only need to get to one player to influence the wager, whether it is the over/under in the game or the player prop, not 9 players.

  26. It seems like we have no option but to put up with a steady diatribe from Goodell the Narcissist. Obviously his handlers have given him the OK to come out of hiding. Equally obvious, his narcissism, while undercover, has continued unabated. Watch and see. There won’t be a single topic, whether related to football or not, that Goodell won’t feel compelled to clarify. Sadly, he really believes that the entire free world and probably 40% of the rest, cannot survive without his direction.
    Look the month was successful. No body missed him. So just fire him and stop the madness.

  27. Uh, there is one reason and one reason only that the NFL doesn’t have a problem with daily fantasy or any other fantasy football. Viewers participate in it which drives ratings which… wait for it… makes the NFL money!

  28. This is a funny discussion – anyone who has Google can do 5 mins of research on Daily Fantasy Football and learn that basically a small percentage of “Sharks” are dominating the Daily Fantasy winnings and that they are doing this based on “skill”, i.e. gathering/analyzing info and making smart decisions. The people who call it “gambling” are either losing or have no idea how the game is really played.

  29. “Goodell explains why NFL has no issues with daily fantasy”

    Because the daily sites have their wallets out, duh.

  30. Legally the answer is pretty simple. It’s not gamblimg because there is an element of skill involved in choosing the players. The skill element is different from a pure game of chance. Kentucky (and most likely several other states) used this difference to allow paramutual betting, even though the KY constitution prohibits gambling.

  31. I fear the photo used for this piece is literally going to be the Valley of the Shadow of Death for the NFL (as we know it today)

  32. Gee thanks Roger : p$$$$!$$!t the sound of the contoversy over Draft Kings; Fan Duel and their obnoxious as deflating …anyone with the iq of a goat knows it’s gambling

  33. As the never ending DFS commercials inform us, these sites are laying out millions and millions of dollars to winners.

    That kind of money can impact performance on a real game just as much as regular gambling.

  34. Let’s start a fantasy NFL game with Roger as the only “player”. Will he get fired for incompetence or will he rake in probably $50,000,000 this year for his money making prowess.
    I’m going with the $50,000,000.

  35. The NFL owes the majority of it’s financial success over the past decade to the rise of Fantasy Football. Daily fantasy is growing at a rate that absolutely dwarfs traditional fantasy sports. The NFL would be fools not to support and defend it. How many people do you really think will tune in to watch Jacksonville vs. Tampa without having some type of action on the game?

  36. The Louisiana constitution expressly prohibits gambling of and kind. So the state “lawmakers” changed what casinos to a description of “gaming”, not gambling.
    Gambling is human nature. It would be totally legal if the government could figure out a way to get their cut.

  37. Translation, “Because Fantasy Football is legal in most states and we can make money off of it. As soon as sports gambling becomes legal in most states, we will be running sportsbooks in the stadiums.”

  38. It’s ok because ALL OF THE OWNERS are invested in it. They make more money ripping people off for a continued watered down product.

  39. The NFL has no issue with these sites because it creates interest for people like my wife. She has never done fantasy football before but when she did the draftkings thing now she is interesting in the NFL redzone thing and wondering if we should get the season ticket.
    The NFL may be a corrupt monster with certain things but they aren’t dumb when it comes to knowing where they can make huge money.

  40. RegisHawk says:
    Oct 8, 2015 10:01 AM
    Kraft is making too much money as a key investor in these sites, so they won’t do anything.


    Take off the Hatriot-colored glasses for a moment and you’ll realize that this has nothing to do with Kraft and everything to do with the Benjamins – of which the NFL stands to lose billions of if daily fantasy is made illegal.

  41. To be honest it takes more skill to successfully bet against the spread than it does for these daily fantasy games. You are better at daily fantasy with skill/research, but luck still rules supreme. Looking at the “top lineups” each week, its more a lottery ticket than well researched teams.

  42. Wait until the stories hit about guys losing their retirement savings, or the family house, or the kid’s college fund, etc.

  43. RegisHawk says:
    Oct 8, 2015 10:01 AM
    Kraft is making too much money as a key investor in these sites, so they won’t do anything.

    Don’t forget Jerry Jones is part owner as well.

  44. The NFL lobbied hard to get fantasy sports exempted from legislation in 2006 re: internet betting. The NFL makes a lot of money from this and they and their cronies like ESPN are at this point well in bed with the major DFS sites.

    “Integrity of the game”, remember.

  45. It IS gambling. Everyone knows it. To suggest otherwise, for any reason, is simply lying.

    It’s one thing, and lame enough, for fans to do this on their own. But the closer the NFL gets to being directly financially involved with this stuff, the closer we get to a really depressing state where incentives start to blur for things unrelated to the games themselves, and the fundamental team nature of the sport.

    Money ruins everything, eventually. The NFL will not be an exception.

  46. It’s a one word answer: money. Congress is going to regulate fantasy (as dsyfunctional as Congress is, the NFL is more so)….there are too many billions of dollars changing hands without being taxed……..besides it is gambling. Anytime you have a situation where less than 2% of the players are winning over 90% of the money….98% of the players are getting screwed.

  47. While I don’t have any problems with sports betting (I’m in a $10 last man standing content for choosing a winning team each week), we need serious restrictions on this such as any person who is associated with the NFL is banned from betting. We should never have to wonder if a referee made a horrible call because they bet on a player this week, or a player messed up because they’re betting on themselves. Pro sports have seen this all before..

  48. sosuhme says:
    Oct 8, 2015 11:52 AM

    Wait until the stories hit about guys losing their retirement savings, or the family house, or the kid’s college fund, etc.

    What happens then?

  49. He should have just done his best impression of Manziel doing his ‘money’ act. That’s why they have no problems with it – they’re making money off it.

  50. From the NYT:

    “Now about the corporate backing. Comcast, Fox, Google, Time Warner, the N.B.A., Major League Baseball and the N.F.L. owners Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft have invested in FanDuel and DraftKings.”

  51. Draft Kings and Fan Duel is good for the NFL. You put a lineup together and throw some money into it (which is gambling), you will want to watch your players. Watching games, up to the last second, regardless of the score, is money for the NFL.
    The issue that is starting to come out with Draft Kings and Fan Duel is similar to insider trading. The employees know how to play the game better than anyone. A Fan Duel employee submitted a lineup at Draft Kings and won over $200k. That is not cool.

  52. Baddell, hypocrisy at its finest. Hey, if the government doesn’t want the tax money from my winnings, I’ll be happy to keep the money while supporting offshore businesses.

  53. The NFL will support anything that makes them money, to my knowledge the only major sport that has a tie to lottery scratch-offs.

  54. Here’s the difference: In daily fantasy, you’re picking from a bunch of players to build a team that will score as many points as possible. You want all your players to do well. You can’t gain much by getting one player on one team to purposely not do well, because all you gain is not having that guy on your team. There are so many different possible lineups, it wouldn’t be worth it for one player to throw his individual performance. If you’re betting the over/under, you could get a player to purposely do bad to keep the score lower. It’s about how much you could gain by convincing a player to do worse than he ordinarily would, which would benefit you in one case but not in the other.

  55. Purely because it is very, very beneficial to the NFL and letting this guy talk about it may be the only reason they keep him around. I love NFL football, not so much fantasy football but if others enjoy it.. good luck to any and all but please realize it’s all about the money. But, make no mistake about it no matter what they try to call it, it’s gambling plain and simple and it’s along making more and more money for the NFL. I could not enjoy the league the way I do if I had to start checking in on all the players on fantasy team and for me a purest football fan at heart it’s just a great distraction for me and so I don’t . My son however is in several leagues and runs one. Me I like the games period. I don’t like Roger Goodell or anything he says but it looks like the owners have a use for him and he don’t mind raking in 40 million large. What a racket!

  56. Fantasy Football is one of the biggest reasons people tune in. This is why there is huge ratings and leads to big deals from networks competing to air the games. So of course the NFL is going to be in support of FF.

  57. Why is the headline of this story use the words “daily fantasy” as opposed to just “fantasy football”?

    Are you implying that Daily Fantasy is gambling but season long leagues (like on CBS Sports) that have give out cash prizes (long before DFS ever existed) is not?

    Both have are games of skill AND both require luck to win. Its not like buying a lottery ticket, which is pure gambling.

    I have played both part-time and more often than not, if I play against someone who doesn’t do their homework, I am going to win.

    But the NFL has done studies that people into fantasy football are going to watch NFL games that they otherwise would not. Its good for them, and its good or their sponsors.

  58. Gambling pure and simple. And when humans get an edge and money is involved, there will ALWAYS be cheating.

    It happens in Wall St. It happened with the holders of the code for online poker too.

  59. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I just love football and daily fantasy is pushing me away. The absolute saturation of commercials on TV, internet and radio is getting downright stupid. The NFL is becoming like WWE wrestling with it’s story lines and constant greed.

  60. Obviously the NFL approves because they get their proper cut of the $$$ lol

    Just wait until that player scores a TD instead of falling at the 1 to seal the game. Then you realize the focus is lost on the game itself.

  61. I have known two very successful gamblers before, who made large sums of money betting the NFL. I lived in Reno and went to sports books. Both of these guys had one thing in common. They had inside information. One of them was the person a character in movie which all of you have seen, was based on. Hell yes this will corrupt the league and ruin the sport. Both were very nice unassuming guys; both were very, very well off.

  62. Still waiting for the NFL to start up Fantasy Blackjack with cash payouts, since there is obviously some level of skill required. Next year Fantasy Texas Hold-em, with Roger as your friendly dealer.

  63. If he had a feel for the game he’d realize that the NFL was built on gambling, specifically the point spread.

  64. I have been a longtime and fan of football but I have to admit Fantasy Football makes almost all the games interesting now. You may be watching two terrible teams play terrible and would otherwise not watch but since you may win/lose at fantasy you pay attention.

  65. I live in Louisville Kentucky.

    Proposals have been made to allow casino gambling in the state; specifically at Churchill Downs (home of the KY Derby).

    Those proposals have never been approved because, per the opposition, gambling is wrong. The same opposition has no quams with Churchill Downs nor thoroughbred racing and the gambling associated it with. The bottom line is they may truly believe gambling is bad, but they don’t believe it enough to sacrifice the income it is currently providing.

    The NFL is pulling the same shenanigans here with DraftKings and FanDuel. They are pretending there is a difference in all likelihood because they are benefiting from it. I can only imagine the slice of the pie they are getting, even if it’s only from advertising dollars. I would be willing to bet if they weren’t getting anything, their stance would change.

  66. I’m sick of the stupid 1 week fantasy football commercials every freaking break.

    It’s made my Sundays A LOT LESS INTERESTING.

  67. Ok Florio, I am seeing your point on most prop bets–but the over under? From your article:

    “Which means that the NFL should now have no problem with any of the various prop bets that are unrelated to the outcome of a game — including the very popular betting on the total points scored in a game, also known as the “over-under.” If the individual points scored by a given player don’t matter to the outcome, the total points scored by both teams don’t matter, either. All that matters is who wins the game and by how many points.”

    Players can at least attempt and could easily (for some players) affect the total score of a game. For example, a player could intentionally not score to meet the right total score, or go on another touchdown drive that they normally wouldnt (unless you’re the Patriots, then you always go for it). It might not always directly affect win/loss records, but to say that doesnt mess with the integrity of the game I dont agree. This is really what Godell really meant, me thinks.

  68. No. 1 rule of gambling. The house always wins. We are talking 100’s of millions on the line. Do you really think those involved are leaving such sums to chance? If you do, you are an idiot, pure and simple. The stores are already coming out. These sites are fixed, I also am really starting to wonder if some games are as well. Keep arguing all you want, but the evidence is really there. Call me a kook, but I don’t give my money away to these folks, even as I try and remain a loyal fan. It’s getting harder and harder not to be suspicious when you see what’s really going on.

  69. “[I]t’s hard to see the influence that it could have on the outcome of a game because individual players are picking different players from different teams, mashing them up, you might call it,” Goodell told reporters on Wednesday. “[I]t’s not based on the outcome of a game, which is what our biggest concern is with sports betting.”

    Really, Roger? How’s your fantasy team doing?

  70. Anyone that plays fanduel or draftkings is foolish. Every single other co. that has contests strickly forbids employees from playing. These companies don’t…. and the employees have won in the past. Hmmmm.

  71. Figures he would be ok with a industry that has less than 1% of the people winning 90% of the money. Most average people go there and throw away their money. I wouldn’t call it a scam, but it is really close. So, of course, Goodell is ok with it.

  72. Good ole Roger is full of BS. It helps rating which makes him and the NFL money.
    boogerhut your the foolish one not to play. I guess you don’t like making money and having fun. Or maybe you just don’t know what your doing and can’t win.

  73. 1) Are the employees changing the code or just betting on and picking players like the rest of the players? If the former, sure complain or sue. If the latter, who cares? That’s like saying former college baseball players shouldn’t be able to play in softball leagues. Or hot dog vendors can’t compete in hot dog eating competitions.

    2) Why is any of this an issue? If people want to gamble, let them. The only problem I see is that it’s not legalized in more places on more things so we can reap some tax benefits off the people who are too weak to control their own betting.

    And don’t give me the “disease” excuse. Everyone likes to gamble just like everyone likes to eat. We don’t outlaw food because some people eat too much, too often.

  74. Rodgers could make his friends millions in daily games if he wanted to. “Hey pal If you wanna make some money I will hit Cobb for 7 TDS this week.”
    I’m a Vikes fan but I will admit this dude is good. Very gay but also very good. He seems to have mastered this game to whole different level. He doesn’t just throw TDs he messes with defenses drawing them offsides and puts the ball in the one spot it’s catchable 50 yards down the field. Then the D finally stops jumping offsides and he catches them with 12 on the field and gives that lame little smirk. Good QB but take him off that team and they are 6-10. I’m tired of hearing about how good they draft. They drafted good once. And it was the 24th pick of the 2005 draft.

  75. But some of the Rooney family had to sell their share of the Steelers because they owned dog racing tracks, how is that related to NFL game outcomes?

  76. But the Rooneys had to sell their share of the Steelers because they owned dog racing tracks, what exactly does that have to do with the outcome of NFL games?

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