The NFL is getting into the world of legalized sports gambling. The League announced Thursday it signed a deal with Caesars Entertainment Corp., the official casino sponsor in the NFL. Caesars Entertainment and MGM own a majority of casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. The deal will begin immediately with Caesar’s expected to use the new NFL brand in playoff, Super Bowl and Draft Day parties and activations. Caesers will host elements of 2020 NFL Draft in Las Vegas.
Those in NFL leadership haven’t always been so keen on the prospect of gambling and the NFL mixing, but it’s incredible how money and the law can quickly change things.
In May the Supreme Court cleared the way to legalized sports gambling when it struck down a 1972 ruling that prohibited states from legalizing sports wagering.
In the past, the NFL treated gambling as an evil transgression. The league even went so far as to ban commercials from cities that had legalized gambling. In November 2012, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell answered what the biggest threat to the integrity of the NFL with a simple, “Gambling would be No. 1 on my list.”
Goodell was asked to expand on his statement and continued, “It’s a very strongly held view in the NFL, it has been for decades that the threat that gambling could occur in the NFL. Fixing of games or any outcome that could be influenced by the outside could be very damaging to the NFL and very difficult to ever recover from. That’s why we take the positions that we do with our policies and education and make sure that people understand that we’ll enforce it vigorously.”
They did. Back in 2015, a fantasy football convention organized by Tony Romo to be held at a casino in Las Vegas was canceled after the NFL warned those organizing the event of the stance on casinos.
With the Supreme Court ruling and national shift, the opportunity for more sponsorships (read more money) opened up as well. It’s no surprise that the time came for a casino group to sponsor the NFL.