Survey Predicts NFL to Reap More Than $2 Billion From Legal Sports Betting

A fully mature sports betting industry in the United States could mean as must as $2.3 billion to the National Football League according to a study by the Nielson Group, commissioned by the American Gaming Association. And the first beneficiary of legal sports betting and a more lenient relationship with casinos is the Dallas Cowboys, who announced a deal with WinStar World casino and the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma.

Despite efforts to make states pony up “integrity fees” a new study by the Nielson Group revealed that a fully mature sports betting industry in the U.S. would contribute as much as $2.3 billion just to the National Football League. Commissioned by the American Gaming Association, the study estimated that media rights payments would soar by18 percent, sponsorship fees would be up 7 percent and ticket sales would increase by 6 percent. All these increases would be due to increased fan interest, which would spur these higher payments.

The study ignores integrity fees, which the sports leagues are pushing for in states now considering legalized sports betting—fees as much as 1 percent of the sports betting handle, the money wagered on sporting events, not the win of the casino.

“So much time has been spent on talk over integrity fees,” said Sara Slane, the senior vice president of public affairs for the AGA. “We think these numbers are conservative and show that the league is frankly tripping over dollars to pick up pennies.”

“Legal, regulated sports betting will create huge new revenue opportunities for sports leagues – and the NFL could be the biggest winner of all,” said Slane. “Once legal sports betting expands across the country, the NFL could take in more than $2 billion a year, reinforcing how much sports leagues stand to gain from increased viewership and private partnerships with sports betting operators.”

And it’s not only the NFL that will benefit. Slane says that Major League Baseball, the NBA, the NHL and the PGA will also make more money because of advances in sports betting technology.

“The next frontier for all these leagues is in-play betting,” she said. “That is the mechanism that keeps that bettor engaged throughout the game. Some of this just doesn’t exist and it hasn’t existed yet. That is some of the product development we hope to see over the course of the next couple of years.”

As if to prove a cozier relationship with gaming, the National Football League’s Business Ventures Committee will now allow teams to join with casinos in sponsorship agreements.

News sources said that under a rule change approved by the 10-member committee, teams can feature advertisements from casino sponsors and daily fantasy sports sites during pre- and post-game shows and during preseason games, including using each other’s logos in their respective advertising.

The amended policy will also reportedly allow clubs to negotiate stadium naming-rights deals with casinos, which removes an obstacle that prevented Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City from opening a sports book. Hard Rock International owns the naming rights for the Miami Dolphins’ stadium.

Casinos will not, however, be permitted to explicitly advertise their sportsbooks with the teams they’re partnered with. Also, teams cannot claim shares of revenue from any business that’s driven to their partners’ betting sites.

The move appears to signal a softening of the NFL’s traditional antipathy to gambling, with several factors possibly playing a role. One is the Raiders’ move from Oakland, Calif., to Las Vegas in 2020. Another is the $25 million partnership recently concluded between the National Basketball Association and MGM Resorts International, which includes access to official league data. Thirdly, there appears to be growing confidence among the major pro sports leagues and the NCAA that federal regulation is on the way that largely will favor their agenda, particularly their desire for a cut of the national betting largesse in the form of royalty payments for use of official league data in settling wagers.

The first NFL team to take advantage of this new rule was the Dallas Cowboys, who reached a deal with WinStar World Casino in Oklahoma, owned by the Chickasaw Nation, granting the casino official designation as the team’s exclusive partner, and exclusive use of the team’s logos and trademarks.

Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones announced the partnership in Dallas last week.

“The Dallas Cowboys take great pride in aligning themselves with the best brands in the world,” Jones said. “It is a privilege to stand shoulder to shoulder as partners with such a prominent entertainment brand like WinStar World Casino.”

Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby said WinStar has always had a close relationship with Dallas and North Texas.

“Hundreds of Chickasaws live in the Dallas area and the Dallas Cowboys are a vital part of the community,” said Anoatubby. “While this partnership is a great business deal, that is only one of the reasons we are excited to be involved with the Dallas Cowboys and the Jones family.”