NFL signs sponsorship deals with three gambling companies

The National Football League has signed sponsorship deals with three gambling companies, the league’s first foray into legal sports betting and the latest sign of the industry’s rapid growth in the United States.

The American Football League has contracted with Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings and FanDuel to operate retail and online sports books – where state law permits – using media, logos and data from the NFL.

Sponsorships were worth nearly $ 1 billion over five years, according to a person familiar with the matter. The offers do not prevent other operators from accepting bets on NFL games.

The deal marks a turnaround for the league, once a noisy opponent of sports gambling legalized. In 2012, the NFL and its peers sued the state of New Jersey to stop the practice, claiming that betting “would irreparably harm amateur and professional sports by raising suspicion that individual games and final match scores may have been influenced by factors other than honest athletic competition.”

Renie Anderson, league revenue director and executive vice president of NFL Partnerships, told the Financial Times that the evolution of league thinking follows “the evolution of everything consumers do, everything consumers do. fans are doing and how their behavior is changing. We follow the fan where he is. “

The growth of the sports betting industry in the United States was made possible by a 2018 Supreme Court ruling that overturned a federal ban on the practice. It has gained momentum as cash-strapped states seek new tax revenue during the pandemic.

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Arizona became the 27th jurisdiction to adopt legal sports betting on Thursday, a week after New York City became the most populous state to approve mobile sports betting.

While some NFL clubs have made sponsorship deals with gambling operators, the league was happy to wait until now, Anderson said.

“We don’t drive sports betting, states and government are,” she said. “We are falling behind. . . we didn’t launch it, but we want to make sure it’s not something we’re blind to.

The terms of the league’s agreements with its gaming partners currently did not include provisions for equity or revenue sharing of bets placed on NFL games, Anderson said. This is because the industry is growing so rapidly and the league faces different national gambling laws and regulations.

“Space is complicated,” Anderson said. “It’s not like [sponsorship categories like] beer or automobiles, sports betting is not at all traditional. “

The NFL is America’s most watched sport, and the move is likely to boost the rapidly growing domestic sports betting market, which rose to $ 7.8 billion in the first two months of 2021, increasing by 90% from last year, according to the American Gaming Association. February Super Bowl bets totaled $ 500 million, up 70% from last year, he said.

Leagues, broadcasters and gambling operators are turning to sports betting to improve fan engagement, especially in the era declining grades.

“The way fans consume the sport in the years to come will be dramatically different,” said Jason Robins, CEO of DraftKings. He said the collaboration with the NFL “will ultimately improve the product on the field and on screen.”

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