As the NFL tries to balance a love of Las Vegas with a loathing of the primary activity that goes on there, what if the league also secretly lusts after gambling?
Sure, Commissioner Roger Goodell is saying all the rights about gambling being the wrong thing for the NFL. Just like he previously was saying all the right things about Vegas being the wrong place. In addition for being paid to be the pin cushion for owners who prefer rich and famous to rich and notorious, Goodell’s compensation package includes taking positions that he knows he eventually may have to abandon as gracefully as possible. Or not gracefully at all.
Really, what has been the cost of Goodell’s about-face on Las Vegas? Has anyone said anything critical about Goodell for saying one thing and doing another? Hell, inconsistency or word and deed practically become the way of the world.
So Goodell can continue to say gambling is bad until the owners decide that gambling is good. And then Goodell can start saying gambling is good, without ever acknowledging that he regarded gambling as bad.
When the owners (and in turn Goodell) decide that gambling is good, what happens next? Behind the scenes, efforts will be made to eliminate the federal law that prohibits the expansion of sports betting beyond the states where it currently happens. (The NFL has used that law to block the expansion of sports betting in states like Delaware and New Jersey.) When that push becomes public, we’ll hear a lot about states’ rights and other situationally convenient philosophies that will justify America telling the United States that they can set up sports books if they want.
Then, the various states will begin to adopt betting on sporting events, one at a time until as many that will ever do it have done it. Then, as many NFL teams as possible will begin to find a way to make money from sports betting.
The process could culminate at some point (maybe years from now, maybe decades) in the ability of a fan/bettor to access a team or league website or app and quickly and cleanly (and legally) place a bet.
For a successful business that constantly wants to find ways to make more and more (and more) money, there’s a revenue stream that has been flowing to people other than NFL owners since the day the sport was born. Every year, billions are changing hands via wagering on NFL games, without the NFL getting a cut.
The move to Las Vegas represents a clear statement that, eventually, it will.