Recently the NFL started allowing gambling operators as sponsors in the league. It all started around three years ago when it was first rumored that Oakland Raiders would be moving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. With the move of an NFL franchise to Sin City, people started speculating that the league would loosen up on their longstanding commitment to keeping gambling out of the game of football. Earlier this year, with the renaming of Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas Raiders, it was also announced that Caesars Palace would be the main sponsor of the newly renamed franchise.
While it all started with rumors around Oakland Raiders a few years ago, the NFL and Caesars Palace have been busy for the past 18 months. Caesars Palace has become a main gambling sponsor of the NFL and besides Raiders, they also have different sponsorship deals with no less than six other teams:
• Las Vegas Raiders
• Chicago Bears
• Atlanta Falcons
• Philadelphia Eagles
• Baltimore Ravens
• New Orleans Saints
• Indianapolis Colts
These new sponsorship deals and the loosening of the NFL’s stance on association with the activity are likely stemming from the fact that sports betting is being legalized throughout the United States, both offline and online. We are likely to see more similar sponsorship deals around the NFL and other major leagues in the US, such as MLB, NBA, and the NHL. Another significant factor is the change in how gambling is viewed from the public. Our society used to frown upon gambling, associating it with criminal activity, namely organized crime. Long gone are the days of crime syndicates running Las Vegas and illegal gambling rings around the US. Today we are seeing regulations throughout many states and with more states expected to follow, and the activity of betting on games with money is something that is socially accepted and easily accessible to many Americans even outside of Las Vegas.
While many are criticizing the decision of making gambling a mainstay in the NFL, the change is positive. The truth of this matter is that legal or illegal, people will bet on sports events. If it’s done legally, in the open, and with the involvement of the government, then the illegal market will slowly wither and eventually disappear. Match-fixing will be less of an issue on all levels of sports in the US, as the government, leagues, and gambling operators can cooperate to track, analyze, and follow-up on these incidents. Both the leagues and government will be able to enforce punishments for people who are involved with fixing matches. This new era will boost the integrity and quality of not only the NFL but of sports on all levels across the US.