Legalized betting on NFL games is closer than ever
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The NFL is on a slow path to finally embracing Las Vegas and with the Supreme Court set to take up New Jersey's attempt to change a federal law that prohibits betting on sporting events, the league may be finally forced to acknowledge what the rest of us have already known.
A large part of the NFL's popularity is tied to gambling whether it be the traditional betting on games with the local bookie, the weekly office pool every housewife in the country seems to win because a Bear could certainly beat a Dolphin, or the fantasy-football frenzy that has turned a generation into insufferable stat monkeys.
Betting on football is as Americana as Chevrolet, apple pie and Vince McMahon dressing up Dusty Rhodes in polka dots.
Yet those betting lines in the local paper (those large folded things older people actually read) are wink-wink, for entertainment purposes only, and the injury reports that Bill Belichick handles with more care than the government guards are state secrets have always been for information only.
The strategy of the NFL when it comes to betting has always resembled big tobacco's effort to lure children to its products, do everything you can to encourage it but deny you are doing anything of the sort.
In many ways, it's an antiquated philosophy born in a different time when things like morality were preached at kitchen tables even if those bellowing from the soap box would then often leave the house and do exactly what they were decrying to their children, including investing a sawbuck on the Cowboys plus-five.
As casinos exploded around the country, going from just Nevada and Jersey to so many Native American reservations around the country, everyone knew this day was coming.
In the world of the NFL, they say iron sharpens iron when it comes to competition in the casino industry once people on the East Coast didn't need to bus into Atlantic City to get their gambling fix, the city and its casinos began to fail.
The way to gain the advantage back was to implement sports betting but a pesky 1992 federal law still existed which essentially forbade states that didn't allow sports wagering to reverse course and join in the fun.
It certainly reads like a law designed to protect Vegas' interests above all else and was implemented at a time when powerful former Nevada Senator Harry Reid was starting his ascent in the Democrat Party. More so, the law essentially tied the hands of other jurisdictions from ever evolving and changing its take on the gambling issue even if the constituency wanted to change.
That's at least one of the issues as to why SCOTUS agreed to consider New Jersey’s bid to legalize wagering on sports in October just as the NFL season is ramping up. The court will essentially be consolidating two sports-betting cases, Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association and New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Inc. v. National Collegiate Athletic Association.
The ultimate result, however, will reverberate throughout the entire sports world and the current make-up of the court has many predicting state's rights will win out in the end, opening the floodgates. And that's an end game that will eventually be championed by the NFL because it will then be able to better monetize this dark, hidden part of the league's popularity
Whatever side of that fence you reside on, you can at least be able to rest assured the hypocrisy will finally be halted in its tracks.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen