While the NBA was the first group to make a deal with gambling companies to allow sports betting in the league, it is not the last. The MLB and the NFL have also made arrangements with gambling companies for branding and sponsorship purposes. What does all of this shuffling mean for fans of the sport? We have a few ideas on what the sporting landscape will look like in a couple of years.
The Change in Sports Betting
Before last May, gambling on sports was illegal nearly everywhere in the United States. The only exception was a few small states that allowed parlay betting, and Nevada, where single sports’ betting was allowed. However, the Supreme Court, agreeing with the state of New Jersey, ruled that the federal government could not decide for states about sports gambling. The Court gave the power to decide back to the states. This opened the door for states to pass legislation to allow for sports betting. Currently, six states have single sports gambling: Nevada, New Jersey, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Mississippi. However, many experts predict that as many as 20 states will have legalized sports gambling by the beginning of 2020.
The NBA and Sports Betting
Earlier this month, the NBA announced that the league made a deal with MGM. MGM Entertainment will be the basketball league’s official gambling partner. The league becomes the first professional sports league in the nation to create a partnership with a gambling operation.
Because of the agreement, MGM is allowed the “rights” to use the NBA’s league logo, as well as individual team logos for promotional purposes. The company is also allowed to use the WNBA logos as well, since they are part of the NBA brand. MGM can also brand itself as the official gaming partner of the NBA and WNBA. In addition, MGM has access to sports data feeds directly from the league, which may be the most valuable.
While MGM gets branding and data directly from the NBA, the league gets $25 million over three years for access to their data feed. In addition, the NBA will create a market for the data feed—it anticipates. For example, sportsbooks in Nevada and elsewhere may be able to get real-time information more quickly on the NBA direct data feed.
What Does This Mean for Fans?
At the outset of the NBA partnership, not much. Fans will still be able to access the game. Fans who are allowed to bet legally using a sportsbook in their state do not have to use the MGM affiliated sportsbooks. If you enjoy in-game betting, you may notice some changes to your ability to bet during the games, depending on the sportsbook. Currently, three states have MGM sportsbooks: Mississippi, Nevada and New Jersey, although the company is seeking additional partnerships with states over their sportsbooks.
NFL and Betting
The NFL is following the lead of the NBA, but much more slowly with regard to partnerships with gambling companies. The league has given approvals for teams to begin discussions with gambling companies to form partnerships as individual teams, rather than as a league, which is what the NBA did. Experts have pointed to the autonomy of each team in the NFL, and that the owners have an incredible amount of control. The NBA is a more united league. Currently, fans are allowed to bet on the NFL, as they can with the NBA in sports books as well as offshore betting.
Future NFL Betting Opportunities
In the future, the NFL is hoping that fans will be able to bet via mobile phones or in betting kiosks in stadiums throughout the league. Several NFL teams in areas where gambling is legal or is about to be legal have expressed interest in having both mobile applications as well as betting kiosks in their stadium. For example, the Oakland Raiders, who are expected to move to Las Vegas in time for the 2020 season, have already stated they want the capability for fans to bet at the new stadium.
In addition, the NFL wants to take a page from soccer leagues across the pond in Europe. In Europe, fans are allowed to bet before the game as well as in-game. In-game betting is a relatively new concept for American sports fans, but it has become fairly common in Europe. For example, fans of a football team could choose from several different options to bet. Fans might choose to bet on whether or not the team will get a field goal or a touchdown on their next possession. The odds for each in-game bet would be displayed as well as the fans betting options.
In addition to in-game betting, the NFL wants to allow fans the opportunity to place other types of bets during the games. For example, during the Super Bowl, fans are allowed to bet on how long the Star Spangled Banner takes to sing. Other betting include how loud the stadium will get, as well as which team will make the first sack, and which team will have the first turnover. These bets, called prop bets, are very popular with gamers who like to bet on professional sports. 866
Where the NFL is Headed
In addition to prop betting, the NFL is looking at additional revenue sources. One reason the NFL is looking at in-game betting and prop betting is because of the age of the viewers for the NFL. As the viewership age increases, the league is trying to ensure that young people continue to stay focused on the games. However, the younger audiences do not want to sit for three hours to watch a game. Research into the NFL and viewership has noted that younger audiences do enjoy both in-game betting and prop betting. In order to keep those viewers, the NFL wants to focus on are the viewers doing in game and prop betting so that they can enjoy the game more fully.
The NFL, unlike the NBA, is also looking to advance into other countries. The NFL has expanded its sites for games to include games in Mexico City as well as London. Gambling would also allow the NFL to expand its reach, and elevate interest in the sport across the globe. Many fans are also looking for new games to try that they are not familiar with, especially if their favorite game and the NFL games don’t occur at the same time.
One of the largest issues that have the NFL leaders concerned is the issue of integrity. Integrity has been an issue within the major leagues for some time. Both the NBA and the NFL have had scandals regarding cheating during games played, and it took years for the taint to go away. However, there are leagues in Europe, most notably the Premier League, that have had betted for years. With the Premier League, in-game betting without cheating issues has been a factor in sports for over a decade. Each team or league in Europe has a company that manages their data. The companies have software that can track whether or not a team has had a rash of bets for a particular item, game or team. With integrity management, the chances the game is rigged is far less.
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