Despite the NFL's vocal opposition to betting on its games, the league's move to allow teams to accept casino ads has generated a great, big ... ho-hum.
Scott Andresen, a sports attorney and Northwestern professor, said the new deal is "somewhat hypocritical" but didn't bother him, he told The Huffington Post Monday. It could even boost teams' payroll, he said.
University of Michigan sports economist Rodney Fort said the advertising could help fill the hotel and convention space attached to the casinos. "There's nothing hypocritical about it."
The NFL last week approved local casino advertising at stadiums and during game broadcasts for the next two seasons, the Associated Press reported. The ads are limited to the upper bowl of the league's venues, local radio broadcasts and in-game programs. They must also include a "gamble responsibly" message. Casinos that host sports betting are prohibited from advertising.
The decision could represent a jackpot for teams like the Philadelphia Eagles, who have 20 casinos within driving distance of their stadium, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Monday.
The New York Jets and Giants could also both gain as much as $5 million apiece, the New York Post estimated.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy clarified Monday that it was the teams that could accept the advertising, not the league. And the clubs were restricted in how they can deploy the marketing. "There is no use of team logos, no special sections or clubs sponsored by casinos, no events, no promotions, etc. This is in contrast to what other sports have done for years," he wrote in an email to HuffPost.
McCarthy had said in an earlier statement distributed to the media: "We remain steadfast in our opposition to the proliferation of gambling on NFL games. There is a distinction between accepting advertising in this limited fashion and gambling on the outcome of our games."
That said, Andresen pointed out football's uncomfortable yet profitable relationship with gambling. "Let's be honest: a substantial part of the NFL's popularity is based in gambling activity or gaming of some sort, whether it's sports books out in Vegas or parlay sheets or even fantasy leagues."
Concluded Andresen: "The hypocrisy has always been there."