by Dan Katz
Owners, players to benefit from wagers
For years, the NFL insisted that it was against sports betting, saying that the activity could harm the integrity of the game. And now, just two short years after PASPA was overturned, allowing states to legalize sports betting, the league has done a 180. The recent NFL collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the owners and the players not only permits sports betting in NFL stadiums but stipulates that owners and players will share in the revenue from the activity.
The revenue share includes proceeds from “gambling-related businesses located in or physically attached to an NFL Stadium,” according to ESPN.com.
Note that this includes any “gambling-related business,” so it doesn’t even necessarily have to be sports betting. The CBA mentions the possibility of slot machines, provided they are inside the stadium or in a facility attached to the stadium.
Naturally, sports betting would be the main source of revenue in such an area. The CBA’s language includes “gambling on any aspect of NFL games, any performance of NFL players in NFL games or in any other NFL/Club-related activity.”
No live betting agents just yet
Though the agreement is effectively encouraging sports wagering – after all, the more betting that is done, the more money the owners and players will make – the NFL does not permit sportsbooks in NFL stadiums. The league has come right up to that line, however, allowing betting lounges. Thus, teams can have an area that might look like a sports bar or casino sportsbook, but rather than having live betting windows, fans can just hang out and bet on games with their mobile device. That is, of course, if sports betting is legal in the state.
Some NFL stadiums currently have daily fantasy sports lounges, so sports betting lounges is not a major leap.
Both the Virginia and Maryland legislatures recently passed sports betting bills. Both bills permit sports betting in professional sports stadiums. One major reason for this allowance is to try to attract the Washington Redskins to build a stadium in their state. The team, though it is named for Washington, D.C., is technically located in Maryland. It is considering building a new stadium and Virginia wants to give the Redskins an incentive to move by permitting sports betting on the premises.
Players gambling on NFL games still prohibited
None of this is to say that gambling is now a free-for-all in the NFL. The CBA’s negotiators were well aware of the potential for problems, so the agreement contains language that effectively echoes the league’s rules. Players are not allowed to bet on NFL games or even do something like “knowingly associate with gamblers or gambling activity.”
We don’t hear about many gambling incidents by players anymore, but just this past November, the NFL suspended Arizona Cardinals cornerback Josh Shaw for betting on NFL games. The suspension is indefinite, which is usually a euphemism for “permanent.”
According to ESPN, Shaw placed a parlay bet on three-second halves of games on November 10th. One of those games involved the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against his own Cardinals. Shaw was not playing because of an injury, so he did not have any direct influence on the outcome. The league did not find evidence of any wrongdoing by Shaw other than betting on the games.
Shaw bet on the Buccaneers as one-point favorites in the second half. Arizona won the second half by a point and thus Shaw lost his bet.