The NFL has lost in the judicial branch (even if the NFL actually has won at the every branch of every bank with which it does business). The league now will take the gambling fight to the legislature.
In its first statement issued in the aftermath of Monday’s landmark ruling paving the way for nationwide sports betting, the NFL makes clear its intention not to lobby individual states but to lobby Congress for a law that protects the NFL’s interests.
“The NFL’s long-standing and unwavering commitment to protecting the integrity of our game remains absolute,” the league said. “Congress has long-recognized the potential harms posed by sports betting to the integrity of sporting contests and the public confidence in these events. Given that history, we intend to call on Congress again, this time to enact a core regulatory framework for legalized sports betting. We also will work closely with our clubs to ensure that any state efforts that move forward in the meantime protect our fans and the integrity of our game.”
The NFL may have a hard time getting Congress to pass any laws that would regulate state-by-state gambling, given that Monday’s ruling arises from the rights of states to determine whether they want to have sports wagering, without interference from the federal government.
At the state level, the reference to the protection of fans and “the integrity of our game” could be another way of phrasing the money-for-nothing “integrity fee” that the sports leagues are seeking. Regardless, the NFL will have little or no leverage to make that request in the states where the NFL currently doesn’t do business. In the states where NFL teams currently reside, the league will have slightly more leeway when it comes to getting a cut, ostensibly to protect fans and ensure the integrity of the game.
Still, it would be far more effective to get a favorable federal law that applies to all states. The NFL apparently will give that a try initially, even if anything that restricts the ability of states to determine the scope and breadth of sports gambling programs will presumably fail for the same reason that the law prohibiting any sports wagering finally has been scrapped.