The NFL, a league once fully opposed to sports betting, is forecast to generate $270 million in revenue this year through agreements with casino firms and betting site operators. That figure potentially increases to $1 billion in the current decade.
Since the 2018 supreme court verdict on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), the famous US sports league has progressively warmed to gambling. That highlights a significant change from when former Commissioner Pete Rozelle ruled out Green Bay Packers legend Paul Hornung and Detroit Lions All-Pro defensive tackle Alex Karris for betting on games.
“You can definitely see the market growing to $1 billion-plus of league opportunity over this decade,” – Christopher Halpin, NFL executive vice president, in an interview with the Washington Post.
As the Post article reveals, the NFL didn’t simply run aimlessly into embracing sports gambling. The league reviewed fans’ attitudes towards gambling, finding that half are either active or aspiring, while another 30% are uncertain about sports wagering. Contrarily, when the league initially researched the matter, the percentage of enthusiastic rejecters fans who strongly opposed gambling was 20%. However, according to the post, that figure has since dropped to 12%.
NFL sees green in gambling
Experts and league spectators say the NFL’s embrace of regulated sports betting draws to simple economics. The NFL is acquiring new revenue streams for the league and its 32 franchises through naming right deals, advertising, marketing partnerships, and other agreements.
Recent activity shows the league’s significant change of view on sports wagering. Late this month, it was disclosed the league would allow a limited number of betting advertisements during broadcasts this season, while State Farm, the Arizona Cardinals location, will be the first in the league to have an onsite market sportsbook.
In April, the NFL revealed that Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ: CZR) is the league’s first casino sponsor. In addition, the league brought DraftKings (NASDAQ: DKNG) aboard as its official betting site partner.
Last month, Louisiana legislators accepted a 20-year, $138 million agreement whereby Caesars wins naming to the New Orleans Superdome, home of the saints. Caesars, in addition, has a marketing agreement with the Houston Texans, although both casinos and sports betting are not allowed in Texas.
The NFL’s softer stance comes as experts estimate north of $20 billion will be gambled on college and pro football this year in regulated betting sites.
Heading into the 2021 NFL season, which kicks off on September 9, sports betting is live and legal in several states and Washington, DC, the locations for NFL franchises. That number includes Arizona, which is likely to be ready on or before September 9. It also includes Virginia and New Jersey, which are not official locations to NFL franchises, but near the named New York Jets, New York Giants, and Washington Football Team market. Out of the 32 league clubs, fourteen are based in markets where gambling is live and legal.
The NFL also has other sports betting revenue-generating opportunities. For instance, the league has a 4.5% equity stake in sports wagering data provider Genius Sports (NYSE: GENI). Earlier this year, Genius won a data deal with the league, reportedly worth $1 billion over six years.
Besides the stake in Genius, the NFL has equity in Sportradar, On Location Experiences, Fanatics, and Skillz Inc. (NYSE: SKLZ).
Caesars gambling big on New Orleans
The naming rights agreement for the Superdome arrives as the biggest gaming firm in the US is planning to advance its casino in the most popular tourist town.
Last December, firm officials disclosed plans for a $325 million renovation of the city’s only land-based casino. The casino is currently branded under Harrah’s name. However, with the overhauls, the casino will be renamed Caesars New Orleans.