The NFL Might Be Most Sensible League When It Comes To Sports Betting

Written By Bart Shirley on June 22, 2018Last Updated on June 24, 2018
NFL logo on red fabric

Last month, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board published its proposed regulations for sports betting in the state and asked for public comment. The National Football League responded with a letter that provides deep insight into the league’s position on the matter.

First and foremost, the entirety of the letter is consistent with the league’s messaging on this subject. Unlike some other entities, the NFL has remained constant in its lobbying for certain concessions.

The other notable thing about the NFL is that it stands alone as the only major sports league that seems genuinely positive about sports betting. One major difference is a complete lack of references to integrity fees.

Integrity fees are a proposed collection from gambling operators that would go to the sports leagues. The NFL has stood alone from its peers in not wanting to engage in their practice.

The other major difference is the NFL’s final request in the letter. The NFL spends a paragraph to urge the board to lower fees and taxes on operators.

Surprisingly, it did so out of concern for the viability of the market and the
ability of legal sportsbooks to compete with their illegal and unlicensed counterparts. This statement may be the first indication that one of the major sports leagues wants the new sports books to succeed.

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The contents of the NFL letter

The letter began by naming the NFL’s four principles of sports betting. As reported in Legal Sports Report last month, these principles have flowed from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell since the PASPA ruling.

As stated in the letter, they are:

  • A legal, regulated sports betting environment with substantial consumer protections;Protection of our content and intellectual property, including from those who attempt to steal or misuse it;
  • Fan access to official, reliable league data; and
  • Adequate resources, monitoring and enforcement tools necessary for law enforcement to protect our fans by eliminating the illegal sports betting marketplace and penalizing bad actors here at home and abroad.

The letter then lists several requests that fell under two headings. Here they are:

Protecting the integrity of sporting contests

  • Prohibit insider and other high-risk sports betting. The league wants to avoid issues with players, coaches, athletic department personnel, or anyone else with inside information to profit from the games. As such, it requests that operators maintain stringent customer verification procedures.
  • Enforce age limits on sports betting. As is the case in most states, the NFL wants no one under 21 could bet on sports in Pennsylvania.
  • Preclude risky betting fixtures: Strangely, this request goes after in-game and proposition-type betting. The league declares these sorts of wagers too susceptible to fixing or cheating.
  • Protect consumers by requiring the use of official data: In this statement, the league wants a requirement that all operators must use official data provided by the league itself. In doing so, the state could protect consumers from inaccurate or deceptive data reports.

Creating integrity in the marketplace

  • Require operator licensure and auditing: The league supports the financial transparency mentioned in the regulations. In fact, it would like a more stringent recordkeeping requirement and the ability to conduct its own independent investigations.
  • Facilitate ease of information-sharing: This request would allow all involved parties to have more information about the people coming through their doors.
  • Provide responsible gaming resources: The NFL simply lends its support for continued resources to flow into treatment facilities and other places where people can receive treatment for their addictions.
  • Eliminate the illegal sports betting market: This request has two desired effects. First, this request would rid the market of bad actors and unsavory website who operate without regulation or licensure. Secondly, this push would rid operators of a source of competition.

Above all else, the NFL is the most reasonable of the sports leagues. It remains to be seen how many of these requests the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board enacts or considers.

Photo by charnsitr /

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Bart Shirley

Bart Shirley is a writer and poker player from Houston, Texas. When he’s not teaching high school math and business, Bart writes about the NJ online casino industry and US online poker. He has a master’s degree in business administration from Texas Christian University and a degree in English from Texas A&M.

View all posts by Bart Shirley