Betting has long been part of the DNA of the National Football League. Two of its founding fathers, Art Rooney and Tim Mara, were gamers.
Rooney funded the early years of the Pittsburgh Steelers with a small fortune he won at Saratoga Racecourse. Mara, her close friend, was a bookie who bought the New York Giants for $ 500.
For decades, however, NFL officials have gone to great lengths to keep the league away from tens of billions of dollars wagered on its games – legally in Las Vegas but also with offshore sports betting shops, in gambling pools. offices and bars and among illegal bookmakers. The NFL supported the Internet Illicit Gambling Ban and Enforcement Act of 2006 and fought New Jersey’s efforts to allow its casinos and racetracks to take bets on football games.
“We try to do everything possible to make sure our games are not betting vehicles,” Joe Browne, an NFL spokesperson, told The New York Times in 2008.
“We have been accused of authorizing the game because it is good for the popularity of the game,” he added. “If this is true then we have wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars opposing gambling on our games.”
What the NFL once sold as a principled stance, however, has recently given way to a much more pragmatic stance. As football betting skyrocketed in a multibillion dollar industry and state after state moved to legalize it, the NFL was left with a difficult choice: to continue to fight gambling on its games, or adopt it in exchange for a significant reduction in casino marketing dollars.
What about that money the league once spent lobbying against gambling? This season the NFL is getting it all. And then some.
On its opening weekend, celebrities such as Ben Affleck, Martin Lawrence and Jamie Foxx made headlines on NFL game broadcasts, initiating one-click bets with a WynnBET, DraftKings account. , FanDuel or BetMGM. The NFL network first included betting lines on its ticker.
Late or not, the NFL’s adoption of the game is, well, lucrative. League and industry experts expect gaming company revenue for the NFL and its teams to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars this season.
“Over the next 10 years, this will be an opportunity of over $ 1 billion for the league and our clubs,” said Christopher Halpin, director of strategy and growth for the NFL.
Just over three years after the Supreme Court struck down a federal law banning sports betting in most states, sports betting companies are meeting an enthusiastic audience. GeoComply Solutions, a company that uses geolocation to help confirm that bettors playing online are doing so from places where betting is legal, said it processed 58.2 million transactions in the United States over the weekend. NFL opening end, more than double what it processed in the same weekend last season.
“We expected high volumes, but what we saw surprised us nonetheless,” said Lindsay Slader, CEO of Canada-based GeoComply. “The level of demand in new markets, such as Arizona, indicates that consumers have long waited for the ability to legally place a sports bet.”
The company said the bets came from 18 US states and the District of Columbia. Soon more states are likely to join.
New York has approved online betting and is in the process of determining which operators will be allowed to take bets. And sports betting measures are under consideration in heavily populated states such as California, Texas and Florida, where sports betting operators are spending a lot to gain a foothold.
“You have to look at the size of the award,” said Craig Billings, managing director of Wynn Interactive. “I think it’s going to be the same size of market as the commercial casino industry in the United States, $ 40 billion a year or more.”
That’s why he hired Affleck to direct and star, alongside Shaquille O’Neal, in a commercial, and his company plans to spend more than $ 100 million on advertising throughout the NFL season.
“Being a part of the in-game broadcast is important – it’s our most popular sport with a core audience of early adopters who have bet overseas,” Billings said. “It’s a gunshot you must take.”
WynnBET is hardly alone.
Through September 9 of this year, DraftKings spending on national TV advertising was up 98% from the same period a year earlier, while FanDuel spending more than doubled, according to company estimates. iSpot.TV search engine.
Overall, gambling companies spent $ 7.4 million on advertising in the first week of prime-time games, up 9% from the opening games of the season. last year on Thursday, Sunday and Monday evenings, according to estimates from EDO, a platform for measuring TV commercials.
“The dollars are starting to add up,” said John Bogusz, executive vice president of sports sales and marketing for CBS Sports.
The network has seen an increase in advertising interest in NFL shows this year. Bogusz attributed “a good chunk” of the growth to sports betting ads.
“Overall, the volume is up among all advertisers, but that has also added up,” he said. “I think it’s going to keep growing.”
Dan Lovinger, executive vice president of advertising sales for NBC Sports Group, said on a conference call that the rise of sports betting operators “reminded us of the opening of the fantasy category.”
In 2015, FanDuel and DraftKings spent millions on the airwaves with advertisements to gain a wider audience for Daily Fantasy Games, where fans pay an entrance fee to assemble rosters of real football players to play against. lists of other fantastic players.
The blitz worked. Kind of.
The campaigns captured not only customers but also the attention of regulators, and drew complaints from viewers who grew tired of repetitive ads. Both companies have spent fortunes on lawyers and lobbyists and have survived intact to turn to sports betting.
The average amount of actual game action during a three-hour broadcast of an NFL game is approximately 11 minutes. Halpin said internal league research showed that among his fans aged 21 and older, around 20 percent were frequent sports bettors who were mostly young and male, and that 20 percent – Mostly women over 55 – were ‘active rejecters’.
To overcome this divide and persuade those in the middle, the NFL decided to limit sports betting ads to one per quarter as well as a pre-game and halftime spot – six in total per broadcast.
He’s also largely avoided talking about odds and spreads directly on larger NFL game broadcasts.
“We need to avoid over-saturating the game with discussions about sports betting or risk alienating fans,” said Halpin. “My mom loves her NFL, but she doesn’t want to talk about gambling.”