Legalized sports betting creates new frontier of NFL news

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Friday’s decision by multiple sports books to remove certain Packers bets from the board based on rumors that quarterback Aaron Rodgers will retire sent shock waves through the media, and it underscored a new reality of the ever-growing industry of legalized wagering on football. Moves made by sports books will definitely make news.

“The bookmakers felt there was credibility to the report, and so they took the Packers number down, and the odds on Green Bay winning the division,” Brent Musburger told Peter King of Football Morning in America. “When you see the books do that, they’re just protecting themselves.”

PointsBet told PFT that its sports book removed the Green Bay over-under win total from the board on Friday, due to the speculation that Rodgers will retire this week. That wager had been off the PointsBet board from late April until early July, when it returned at nine.

King asked Musburger if he believes the scuttlebutt that Rodgers could retire.

“I think there’s a shred of truth, because there was no denial,” Musburger said. “He definitely, definitely is trying to blow his way out of Green Bay.”

Musburger is right. Rodgers knows what’s being said, written, and tweeted. He knows that the sports books have gotten spooked by the retirement rumors. And he’s done nothing to shoot them down.

Soon enough, we’ll all know whether the sports books were being overly careful or overly smart. Regardless, these actions and reactions from bookmakers will now become a new source of NFL news. And, as one league source observed over the weekend, things could get very awkward if a sports book’s removal of a bet causes a major issue for a team — and if that specific sports book also sponsors that team.

In this case, it wasn’t an issue because legal sports betting has yet to land in Wisconsin. Inevitably for some team, it will be.