So let’s just say the league goes after your money in every way it can, from ticket prices to outrageously overpriced official gear to special cable packages to $9 beers and $7.50 hotdogs to the most egregious money-grabbing invention ever: the personal seat license. The last is the definition of chutzpah — a huge fee the poor schmuck fan pays for the privilege of being allowed to buy season tickets.
It’s anybody’s right to charge what he or she can for a product, and if somebody is willing to pay, it’s none of my business.
But I do have a problem when the NFL, which seeks to maximize revenue in every way possible, tries to stop somebody else from making money. This is the situation in Delaware, where the state is preparing to allow sports betting in its casinos, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is fighting like crazy to stop it from happening.
The NFL has filed a legal brief against the measure with the state Supreme Court.
Delaware wants to allow sports betting for one very good reason: The state budget is $800 million in the red, and sports betting will rake in an estimated $50 million to help bridge that gap.
Despite what Goodell says, the harm to the great sport of football will be exactly zero. Nevada has been running big-time sports books for a long, long time, and NFL football has survived. Two other states, Montana and Oregon, also allow sports-based gambling. Anybody who wants can place bets with offshore sports books on the Internet. And there remains a vast illegal gambling network in this country run by organized crime. So it’s not as if one more state is going to make a difference.
Beyond that, the NFL’s position is the definition of hypocrisy. If gambling didn’t exist, the league’s popularity would plummet. One of the most important topics of discussion every week is the point spread on games. Millions put money — legally or illegally — on the games, then buy NFL Sunday Ticket to track their bets. The Super Bowl is the single biggest betting event in the nation.
Goodell knows all this. He knows the league needs gambling like “American Idol” needs online voting. His manufactured outrage at little Delaware is just his way of pretending that the NFL is the last bastion of morality in America.
There is another issue for Goodell. The NFL reserves the right to use the copyrighted team names to make money for itself. So, the last time Delaware ran a lottery based on NFL games, the league sued to keep the state from using the team names. So instead of posting betting lines on the Packers, it took them on Green Bay. The NFL hasn’t demanded that Vegas books not use team names, which makes you wonder how sincere that argument is.
The NFL’s position is laughable. Some of the game’s early pioneers were gamblers. Tim Mara, the original owner of the New York Giants, was a legal bookmaker in 1925 when he bought the franchise. The Rooney family, owners of the Steelers, has been heavily involved with horseracing since pretty much forever. Leonard Tose, the former owner of the Eagles, lost the team because of his gambling addiction.
Preventing Delaware from snagging a share of the gambling market won’t change a thing other than ensure that illegal bookmakers will continue to thrive and offshore operations will suck even more money out of America.
There never has been a game-fixing scandal in the NFL despite all the billions wagered on the game every year. The only thing having one more state allow sports betting will do is put the industry under tighter control. That’s not bad for the NFL, it’s good.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Unless Congress repeals the 1992 law, no other state can jump on this revenue bandwagon. Again, why all the outrage? Because a state is doing exactly what Goodell does every day he goes to the office — think of new ways to make money?
The people who live in houses financed with personal seat license fees shouldn’t throw stones.
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