Everyone and their parents know this: the National Football League, America’s top professional sports league, is big business, irrespective of which way you look at it. The league generated a record-setting $11 billion last year with each of its 32 teams taking home $343.7 million each, based on figures recorded on the Green Bay Packers’ annual financial reports.

The NFL ranks among some of the most valuable and profitable enterprises in the United States of America, and as you’d expect, partners and sponsors have continued to show interest in the league. We’ve seen the NFL partner with different conglomerates, from transportation logistics company FedEx to official soft drink/alcoholic beverage sponsors, like Anheuser-Buch, Pepsi Co, and Gatorade. The NFL is said to have over 30 sponsors in total.

And it looks like the league will embrace even more sponsors from industries it steered clear away from in the years past. To the surprise of many, the NFL announced it was partnering with a gambling company in January 2019. Now, if you’ve been around for a while, you’ll know that the league has traditionally never been in support of casino or sports gambling, in any shape or form. But the league made a U-turn to ally with one of the fastest-growing industries in America.

The NFL’s partnership with the gambling industry works well in favor of the league and gambling companies. For the NFL, it means a potential growth reach and wider participation among fans. And for the companies, it means NFL ticket packages for both regular and postseason games, especially the Super Bowl. However, what this deal doesn’t cover, as of this writing, is NFL betting and sports wagering.

Nevertheless, the fact that the league now has a gambling sponsor is great for the casino and sports betting industries. It signals that betting is gaining a wider acceptance in the country than ever before following the Supreme Court’s ruling in May 2018. And for a business that has sternly spoken against sports betting to finally embrace it even in its slightest form, this is good news!

The NFL once argued that sports betting could lead to courtsiding and many other undesirable practices. The league’s concern has never been totally out of place. Over the years, there have been suspicions around teams and players working with sport betting operators to change the outcomes of sports games. One such infamous incident occurred during the US Open 2016 which led to the ejection and long-term ban of 20 individuals.

But, as more states continue to ease their sports betting regulations, the NFL has also done the same. Now, a couple of individual franchises have sportsbook partners, an unthinkable move to make just a few years ago.

For example, in the league’s quest to expand its reach beyond the four walls of America, it has since embraced partners, such as 888Sports in the United Kingdom and Ireland. 888Sports also partnered with the league for its annual NFL London games and Super Bowl LVI. In addition, the gambling company serves as an official sponsor for the New York Jets franchise.

While these deals are putting both businesses on the map, the NFL has enforced a couple of restrictions on these new collaborations. One such is that every franchise should adhere to strict no-betting policies in stadiums, although designated betting areas or lounges would be permitted where fans can place wagers.

The league has also enforced rules concerning where franchises can place sponsorship logos and signage in their stadiums. NFL teams may not place logos of their betting partners in areas that could be caught on cameras covering field action.

Another rule involves a strict no-naming rights policy for stadiums to avoid excessive publicity. These regulations show one thing: the NFL is still not fully in support of sports betting. Embracing partnerships with gambling companies comes as a consequence of the gradual acceptance of more forms of betting in the United States.

We are seeing a surge in the number of states that have now legalized online gambling or are doing so. Gamblers in these states can now access licensed casinos and Sportsbooks to enjoy their favorite casino games and place available sports wagers.

As you can imagine, this means bad news for Vegas, Atlantic City land-based casinos, and as many tribal casinos in states like California. But it’s good news for Americans who have been desiring to enjoy online gambling like individuals in other countries.

As for the different NFL franchises, this is also some welcome development. We’ve seen a couple of franchises delve into the sportsbook partnership action. The Philadelphia Eagles recently signed with Unibet, one of the leading gaming juggernauts in Europe.

According to reports, Unibet will be allowed to install some permanent branding throughout selected sections of the Eagles’ home stadium. This deal also allows them to advertise on some of the team’s other facilities like the Eagle Nest Tower, scoreboard, and billboards which are conspicuous to stadium attendees but will not be caught on camera. Furthermore, Unibet will be allowed to place its branding on some of the Eagles’ online platforms like their official website.

Another franchise that has quickly swung into action is the Denver Broncos who announced a deal with one of the world’s leading sportsbooks, FanDuel. Denver also has deals with Betfred USA and the Saratoga Casino headquartered in Black Hawk, CO. These deals allow for sports betting designated arena outside the Broncos’ home stadium and other cross-marketing logistics. There are also plans to develop sports betting app for fans aged 21 or above to bet outside the stadium facility.

The Future

The NFL looks poised to embrace more sponsorship partners from the gambling industry in the coming years. Whether these deals would include sports wagering or not remains to be seen. We’ve seen the Broncos and Eagles get in on the action. The whole league might as well embrace it in the coming years.

But one thing is for sure, slowly and steadily, sports betting will continue to gain ground around the league.