The NFL has gone from hating gambling to loving it, because the NFL has found a way to turn gambling into an extremely viable revenue stream.
With more and more American states legalizing sports wagering, and with the NFL abandoning its past shunning of most things gambling, the league will be making plenty of money from its altered position.
Via the Washington Post, the league expects to generate roughly $270 million in revenue this year from sports betting and gambling deals. NFL executive V.P. and chief strategy and growth officer Christoper Halpin says that, eventually, gambling will become a 10-figure revenue stream. Annually.
“You can definitely see the market growing to $1 billion-plus of league opportunity over this decade,” Halpin told the Post.
That’s great news for football, but it comes with an inherent warning for the current stewards of the game. If some of that revenue isn’t devoted to ensuring the accuracy of calls, protecting inside information, preventing corruption of coaches, players, and officials, and otherwise safeguarding the integrity of the game, the league will be stepping into a bear trap, eventually.
As more and more dollars are legally bet on pro football games, governmental officials will demand that the playing field becomes as level as possible. One scandal will potentially light a fuse for legislation, regulation, and/or prosecution.
Early in the process of various states adopting gambling programs, some sports leagues wanted a piece of the action for the sole purpose of financing programs aimed at ensuring the integrity of the games. That approach never took root, but that doesn’t mean the sports leagues shouldn’t strive for the highest degree of integrity possible.
If they fail, the federal government will do it for them. Thus, the NFL and the other sports leagues must think creatively and proactively to identify all potential problems and to solve them. Unfortunately, creative and proactive thought and execution isn’t one of the NFL’s strong suits.