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NFL To Allow Casino Partnerships And Stadium Sports Betting Lounges In 2020

Lounges Will Only Be Permitted In Stadiums In States With Legal Sports Betting

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For quite some time, the National Football League was the most anti-gambling league of the country’s four major sports. With its most recent announcement, however, it appears the league has finished its gradual 180 degree flip on the issue.

For the upcoming 2020 season, the league will allow its teams to sign partnerships with casinos and sportsbooks. It will also allow its franchises to build sports betting lounges inside their stadiums, according to a report from Yahoo Finance.

This is in stark contrast to events even as recently as 2015 when the league shut down a fantasy football convention in Las Vegas that was headlined by then Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo just because it hinted at the idea of gambling.

With the possible partnerships, the casino and sportsbook sponsors will be allowed to use official team logos and names in their advertising campaigns. These partnerships have been forming for a while now and are just now being given the green light by the league.

Towards the end of 2018, the Seattle Seahawks formed a partnership with a local tribal casino. Before that, the Dallas Cowboys partnered with WinStar World Casino, Caesars partnered with the eventual Las Vegas Raiders, the New York Jets partnered with MGM and 888 Casino and the Ravens partnered with the nearby Horseshoe Baltimore. In a more recent partnership, the Philadelphia Eagles announced a deal with Harrah’s Philadelphia at the end of 2019.

The physical lounges that will be built in the casino will be convenience and comfort for probable gamblers, but will not accept bets. It will display odds of assorted bets, but will only allow people to place wagers on their mobile device.

Those lounges will only be allowed to be built in stadiums where the state has already legalized sports betting. The Falcons, along with the other major sports franchises in the state, have actively lobbied in support of the sports betting bill making its way through the state legislature.

Chris Halpin, the NFL’s vice president of strategy and growth, told Yahoo that the league wanted the lounges to help accommodate where the market is going, while not inundating non-gambling fans.

“We didn’t want betting windows or kiosks or signups in the broader concourse where all fans are exposed to it, including underage fans but also fans who are not interested in betting and don’t want to be overwhelmed by it,” said Halpin. “Relative to our brand, having it within our lounges or on mobile is the right way to do it, and it’s also really where the market is going.”

At least from a philosophical perspective, the NFL is now more aligned with the three other leagues on the sports betting issue.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred called sports betting a “great source of fan engagement” almost a year ago, former NBA Commissioner David Stern called sports betting “good for business,” though noted that he believed college athletes were at risk of being corrupted, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman headlined a sports betting panel at the country’s biggest gaming convention last September.