The National Football League, which for 100 years has tried to keep gambling out of the game, will enter a new era beginning next season. Not only has the league partnered with Caesar’s as they become the “official casino of the NFL” the Raiders will become the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020.
The skeptics who have believed all along that NFL and other pro sports are fixed so the gamblers make money will be even more convinced now. But those people shouldn’t be of concern to the NFL anyway. They are not fans who watch, buy tickets, or merchandise.
Gambling, both legal and illegal has been going on for generations anyway, without the consent or knowledge of the league. Gambling has on occasion reared it’s ugly head in the game as well. Remember Art Schlister? He was a quarterback with a gambling addiction. The league survived that era, just like the NBA has survived the black eye of having refs who admitted making calls to swing point spreads, or MLB that survived Pete Rose and the 1919 Chicago White Sox scandal.
Legal sports gambling may actually give leagues help in ridding the games of the seedy underground gambling which can sully reputations and give fans reason to doubt the validity of outcomes of games. If betting is done legally and out in the open, and is scrutinized by the government, there is no reason to place bets with illegal bookmakers. Moreover, both online and land-based casinos are going hard on landing sports sponsorships.
Think prohibition. Organized crime syndicates made millions selling alcohol when customers couldn’t go to the grocery store or liquor store and buy it legally. The same should be the case with betting on football. Legal books make the odds in their favor to insure they will make a profit no matter who wins or loses. There is no need to fix games or shave points. Players will make money from the industry much like they make money from sports trading cards, apparel sales and other businesses that use their likenesses. There’s no need to take money to shave points when you’re already making millions.
Both online and landline casinos are going hard on landing sports sponsorships. The NHL, MLB and NBA already have deals with legal sports betting companies such as MGM. While the NFL’s deal with Caesar’s is “casino only” as of 2020, it’s just a matter of time before they will also be involved in the legal sports betting as well. Will the average fan notice? Not if all goes well.
The sure fire way to kill both industries is to turn the sports leagues into some kind of scripted farce. People will leave in droves if they suspect games are not on the up and up.
But will they be able to tell? Yes they will. Remember the Black Sox? Their attempts to throw the World Series were so obvious there were writers already suspicious after Game One. In fact, rumors swirled of a fix as soon as the odds shifted from being heavily in the Sox favor to more in favor of the Cincinnati Reds. It’s not easy to purposely lose without making it look like you are.
If the Houston Astros/Boston Red Sox sign stealing scandal has one positive it is this: those teams were cheating to win. And MLB came down hard after they were caught. The names of A.J.Hinch, Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran are the modern version of Shoeless Joe Jackson, Ed Cicotte, and Buck Weaver. They will forever be linked with this scandal and tarnished. Will any NFL players want to risk this happening to them? One wouldn’t think so.
Legal sports betting has been going on in other countries for years now. Soccer has not suffered for it. European Football is the world’s most popular pro sport. It’s superstars are the highest paid athletes on the planet. Teams such as Barcelona, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Manchester City and PSG have world wide followings, that have now even penetrated the United States. Has there been any indications of foul play in the sport?
This is just going to be the new reality in the NFL as well as the other major US sports. After a few months, the games will go on as normal and the only people affected will be the sports bettors, who won’t have to place bets with bookies anymore. Any time people who make money illegally are put out of business is a good thing.