The discussion surrounding gambling and professional sports has picked up some steam the last couple years, and is not going away. Earlier this week, there was a National Conference on Problem Gambling, and there was an intriguing comment from NFL senior labor relations counsel, Brook Gardiner (emphasis mine).
“One point to think about that people don’t mention as much, but is very prominent in the league’s discussions,” he said, “is: Would legalized gambling affect the product itself? Are we affecting the game itself or how people view the game, and does the game itself become tangential, and does the money-making enterprise become more important than the game?”
I highlighted that last comment because it cracks me up to no end. The NFL product is the game of football, but in reality, it long ago became a money-making enterprise more than just a basic game. It sort of made me think about the line from Seinfeld in which Jerry wants to know how he can pass a lie-detector test.
I think that eventually gambling will become sufficiently mainstream that even the NFL will embrace it further. I say “further” because the NFL does not have a problem with its teams making money off things connected to gambling. Whether it be advertisements in stadiums or the New Orleans Saints conducting training camp at a place (The Greenbrier) that has a 103,000 square foot casino.
At some point, the NFL will realize how much money there is to be made off gambling. Or, at least it will publicly recognize what I have to think it privately realizes. Last year, Jed York commented on it after Adam Silver had discussed the potential embrace of gambling. York discussed the fact that it is deeply embedded in European sports, and thinks it will be further embraced in the US eventually. It’s going to take a while, but I think eventually we see it happen.