The NFL has given the go-ahead for stadiums to offer betting lounges in their facilities, but will not allow wagering on-site. Even though there are only six NFL franchises in states where sports wagering is legal, the move to allow lounges is another step toward a full embrace of betting by the league.
The league has stated that betting lounges can be sponsored by sportsbook operators, much like a team can already have a partnership with a gaming company, like the partnership between Unibet and the Jersey Devils. But the NFL has ruled that, as of now, the lounges will not have kiosks or betting windows, although many experts expect that could change over the next several years.
“We’re allowing betting lounges,” Halpin told ESPN late last week. “Similar to daily fantasy lounges today, in an adult, discreet area, there will be a betting setup, but we’re not going to have betting windows.”
The NFL’s new policy toward sportsbook operators allows teams to partner and distinguish an official sponsor alongside marketing materials such as signs and banners on websites. If the team comes to an agreement, the gaming operator must be designated as a sponsor on all signage and those signs will continue to be prohibited from being displayed on the lower bowl of the stadium.
The new policy is a reflection of the NFL’s growing embrace of sports betting after years of rejecting a progressive outlook toward wagering. Currently, Indiana, Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania offer legal sports betting and are home to six of the 32 NFL teams.
“We feel good about how it’s evolved state by state,” Halpin said about the expansion of sports betting in the United States since the Supreme Court decision to allow wagering on a state-by-state basis in 2018. “We’re more and more excited about how sports betting is developing, and we’re now doing more in space. We’re very positive about how it’s developing.”
The new sponsorship arrangement sets the stage for exponential growth among operators as NFL owners and players negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement that could create a 17-game regular-season schedule and expanded playoff field.
Currently, the NFL playoffs are held with 12 teams, but the new proposal by owners could increase the number of teams to 14, creating one more wild card weekend game for each league.
The extra playoff game, alongside one to two more weeks of the regular season to accommodate the 17th game, would be a huge attraction for bettors, providing operators with millions more in yearly handle, especially in Nevada where the NFL has come to play.
Las Vegas has gotten their second professional sports team this winter, alongside the NHL’s Vegas Knights, as the Oakland Raiders have officially become the Las Vegas Raiders. And if you need more proof that the NFL has become more betting friendly, the 2020 NFL Draft will be held on the famous Las Vegas strip in April.
The proposed 17-game schedule has been formally submitted to the NFLPA and is being considered by the players. Early reports suggest that union leaders are split over the benefits of a 17-game season, casting a shadow of doubt on whether the proposal will become reality.
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