When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke to the media after the league announced its new broadcasting contracts last month, he said the league would “find ways we can engage fans through legalized sports betting” during the life of those deals.
That continued a major shift in attitude for a league that had long worked to avoid any connection with gambling and that shift grew even larger on Thursday. The NFL announced their first-ever sportsbook partnerships with Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings, and FanDuel.
The multi-year agreements make the three companies official sports betting partners of the league and give them the ability to use NFL marks. The league’s announcement says they will also “engage with fans through NFL-themed free-to-play games” and integrate betting content into NFL properties.
“As the sports betting landscape has continued to evolve in the United States, we have been thoughtful with our strategy and are excited to announce three partners who share the NFL’s vision and goals,” NFL chief revenue officer and executive vice president of NFL partnerships Renie Anderson said in a statement. “Working closely with Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel, we will provide fans new and different ways of interacting and engaging with the sport they love.”
Twenty-five states and Washington D.C. have legalized sports betting while many other states are working on bills that would lead to legalization. As they do, the ties between the NFL and gambling will only grow.