The League

Dan Levy
Sports Media Guru

Dan Levy

The host of On the DL with new episodes every weekday.

Who's the NFL Kidding?


I live in New Jersey. I can walk into my local convenience store and play the lottery. I can also grab a handful of scratch and win tickets.

Is it gambling? Sure it is. It's an utter game of chance with my hard-earned money, trying to turn that hard-earned money into more money, albeit decidedly less hard-earned. It's gambling.

If I drive an hour down the road, I can go to Atlantic City. I can take a bucket full of coins and put quarter after quarter into a machine in hopes of turning that quarter -- or five dollars as many of them are now -- into thousands. If I walk around the corner, I can sit at a table and watch a white ball cascade around a numbered wheel. I can put money on what number I expect this ball to land on. Heck, even what color I expect this ball to land on. At the next table, I can bet on whether or not my cards will come closer to 21 without going over than the dealer. Or throw some dice to try and double my stake.

You get the point. There are many ways to gamble. So why are people so upset about sports gambling? Why is the NFL sticking its nose in Delaware's business (and hopefully New Jersey's soon by the way) by coming out against the legalization of and legislation for sports gambling in the First State?

I wish I could offer a guess. Is it because the NFL is the most popular league in this country and coming out publicly against gambling is the right thing to do? The fact is, there are more bets placed on NFL games in this country than any other sport, by a mile. Sports gambling, in the casinos in Vegas, online and on the street corner, is a part of the fabric of this country. Frankly, the reason the NFL is so darn popular is because fans around the country have a rooting interest in every game, even if their team isn't in it.

Why would a guy in Washington care about the Browns and the Chiefs on a random Sunday afternoon? Because he's got the Chiefs -5 and the under, that's why.

Gambling is everywhere, and if states can provide legal manners of gambling on the games, they can TAX THE WINNINGS. And the best part for the state is that they don't have a stake in the game. If the house wins, they get a cut of the profits. If you win, its all on record and they can take their cut from you. The old adage is that the house always wins... well the government can do pretty well for themselves too.

Is the NFL concerned about potential payoffs? The NFL players make so much money that payoffs are nearly impossible. The amount of money someone would have to pay a player to throw a game would be so immense, they'd have to cover that loss by betting far too much on the game. Thus moving the line. Thus alerting the proper authorities that something may be going on.

Does the NCAA have a gripe? Sure. Because the NCAA doesn't pay its players. That's why you can get a situation like the one at USC where a player was given as little as $1000 as a bribe. That seems like nothing compared to the money an NFL player makes. But to a college kid, a few hundred bucks might be worth dropping a pass or missing a few jumpers. So fine, NCAA, keep all the money for yourselves and come out against gambling all you want.

NFL, who are you kidding? This helps you. This gets more interest in more places on your games. You don't have to worry about the players fixing games. And sure, like in other sports, you should be concerned about the referees fixing games, but by legalizing and monitoring more of the action out there, it becomes EASIER for you to track malfeasance. You'll never catch a guy placing a bet under an overpass in Queens. But you'd have a better chance if he was placing his bet at a window at the Delaware House rest stop on 95.

And get to Jersey already. I've got a four-team parlay I'm itching to lay a fin on. (Note: I'm not, and frankly I'm not sure how much a fin even is -- 5, 50, 500?, but I always wanted to say that.)

By Dan Levy  |  May 15, 2009; 8:38 AM ET  | Category:  Dan Levy , NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Quick note: Way back when, Jimmy the Greek testified in congress that betting on golf was bigger than any sport. Of course, it was "all bet on the first tee" and not on Tiger and co.

Posted by: wumpus | May 16, 2009 10:58 AM

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