If you can’t beat ’em, bet on ’em.
Not long after the NFL focused significant time, effort, and money on preventing the expansion of legalized sports betting, the NFL literally is all in — thanks to the billions-with-a-b that the league will earn in the coming years from the phenomenon.
Now, the NFL has created the position of V.P. & G.M. of Sports Betting, via Sports Business Journal. David Highhill, previously the NFL’s V.P. of Strategy & Analytics, will assume the new role.
It’s a critical job. The easy part is presiding over the laying of the golden eggs and/or the printing of even more cash. The hard part is ensuring that appropriate measures are in place to safeguard against threats to the integrity of the game.
It’s more than just making sure people aren’t betting when they shouldn’t be betting or fixing games or shaving points. Inside information, as explained in Playmakers, is everywhere. It needs to be properly handled. Opportunities for misusing it need to be identified and prevented.
The NFL and all other professional sports leagues need to show that they can be trusted to guarantee the integrity of the betting on their products. If they can’t, Congress eventually will create an agency with the power to investigate, to prosecute, and to potentially incarcerate anyone who breaks the rules.