Did you ever wonder why National Football League (NFL) teams publish injury reports? As a fan, are you desperately in need of knowing whether the Jacksonville Jaguars rookie tight end is “probable,” “questionable” or “doubtful” to play on any given Sunday?
Well this season, the nearly 75 year-old injury report might begin to make more sense to the average fan.
The injury report dates back to the 1940’s and was designed by a former NFL Commissioner to avoid corruption by gamblers. Over time, the report would see its changes, but it has persisted and served as an ever-more critical data tool for gamblers in both legal and illegal settings. This brings us to the 2018 NFL season where consumers across the country will have increased opportunities to place a legal bet on their favorite football team.
In May, the United States Supreme Court invalidated the federal law that had effectively granted Nevada a monopoly on sports betting. As a result, several states have been rushing to pass legislation that would authorize sports betting within their borders in time for the start of the NFL season on September 6. To date, in addition to Nevada, consumers in Delaware, New Jersey and Mississippi can now legally place a bet on a sports contest. States such as Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Rhode Island are moving quickly to get their regulations in place before the first official kick-off.
Lining-up to offer these bets are big gaming brands such as MGM, Boyd and Penn National together with digital platforms such as DraftKings and Paddy Power Betfair, who recently acquired the U.S. fantasy-sports platform FanDuel. An analyst at Deutsche Bank predicted that by 2023, 13 states would have authorized sports betting and casino revenue from this activity would likely reach $4 billion.
However, this certainly doesn’t suggest every state is moving mountains to legalize sports betting. Nor is every sports league supportive of this new landscape.
Some large states such as Florida, North Carolina and Texas currently have no plans to change their betting laws and the NCAA and its leagues continue to have serious concerns about how wagering could impact the integrity of their many and varied games. Conversely, the National Basketball Association (NBA) is leaning into this new opportunity and in July signed a landmark dealwith MGM Resorts to make them their official gaming partner, the first partnership of its kind in the United States.
As our European friends can attest, there is little doubt that legalized gaming will alter how American consumers interact with the world of sports going forward. But for now, only one thing is certain — for the next several years policymakers on the state and even federal level will vigorously debate exactly how this new and growing industry should be regulated and who should benefit from the billions in revenue it generates.
By Joe Farren, Executive Vice President, Powell Tate, Washington D.C.