The League

Peter Schaffer
NFL Agent

Peter Schaffer

Agent and professor of sports law

Bet on It


The state of Delaware, in dire need of revenue from its citizens for its citizens, passed a bill, Thursday, authorizing state licensed and operated lotteries on professional sports. The NFL, faster than a Bullet Bob Hayes 100 yard dash, raced to the State Court of Delaware to oppose this legislation. Is this a permissible activity for states, and will it damage or benefit the NFL and other professional sports leagues?

The NFL obviously has a strong obligation for the good of its game and the integrity of its business to insure that all games are won fair and square on the field. They feel the responsibility to keep the corrupt influences of illegal gambling out of its league and away from its participants. They must make sure no illegal outside interests or even the appearance of any outside influence affect the natural outcome of gridiron battles. 20th century sport was replete with such scandals: the Black Sox and Shoeless Joe Jackson, boxing fixes, basketball point shaving and Hall of Fame candidate Pete Rose betting on his own team. In each case, the leagues employed the "best interest of the game" clause to punish and banish the guilty from its fields.

The State's interest in driving revenue is obvious in these economic times. States need to find creative ways of supplementing dwindling tax bases to continue to provide for the public welfare of its citizens. The current estimates for gambling on sports nationwide are somewhere between $80 billion to $380 billion illegally bet on sporting events in the United States each year, and $2.5 billion wagered legally on sports in Nevada alone. If you would project that states make about 10 percent of gross gambling proceeds, selling $100 million in lottery tickets would add $10 million to the states' coffers. This would certainly go a long way in supplementing the states' revenue shortfalls.

The question then comes down to whether the two compelling and competing interests can join to produce revenue to economically starved municipalities. The reality is that Nevada and Oregon already allow for public and legal gambling on sporting events and only the naïve still believe that gambling does not occur in sports in all other states.

The NFL, ironically, insures the integrity and stability of betting on games by strictly and stringently policing its weekly and daily injury reports on its own teams. It also revels in the weekly betting lines of the games published in all forms of periodicals, including such esteemed institutions as the Washington Post itself. There is no other reason to police these reports but to insure the proper betting lines on games in the first place. The leagues also are keenly aware that an increase in gambling increases viewership and interest in games. So while out of one side of its mouth the league publicly abhors gambling, the other side realizes its importance and necessity to the financial strength of its product.

Based upon these facts, the league should publicly accept what they have privately acknowledged and appreciated for years. Gambling, when properly regulated and controlled, is good for its games and leagues. The NFL should thus stop the charade of saying their anti-gaming stance is for the good of the sport.

By Peter Schaffer  |  May 15, 2009; 6:40 AM ET  | Category:  NFL , Peter Schaffer Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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You failed to mention how receptive the NFL is to the whole concept of fantasy football. They act as if there is no money being exchanged in fantasy leagues and thus embrace and support it.

The one area the NFL refuses to budge on is publishing the referee assignments in the days prior to the weekend days (something the NBA started doing last year after their refs were under fire). I've been writing the league offices for years requesting this information be made public. They write back indicating they have no intention of releasing the assignments.

Posted by: ARCstats | May 18, 2009 8:46 PM

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