NFL Inches Toward Stadium Sports Betting as Sportsbook Sponsors Permitted

Posted on: February 22, 2020, 12:18h. 

Last updated on: February 23, 2020, 11:41h.

The NFL is moving closer to allowing wagering in pro football stadiums with news this week that it will permit sponsorships from sportsbook operators, as well as authorize betting lounges. But for now, gambling on athletic events in on-site lounges is banned and no betting windows are permitted.

Under the leadership of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the league will permit limited sportsbook sponsorships at stadiums. (Image: Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

The betting lounges may start to appear in some stadiums as early as the upcoming season, Yahoo Sports reported. They could showcase betting via cellphones, ESPN explained.

The stadiums must be in the 14 states where sports wagering is already allowed, Chris Halpin, NFL chief strategy and growth officer, told ESPN.

We’re allowing betting lounges,” Halpin was quoted by ESPN. “Similar to daily fantasy lounges today, in an adult, discreet area, there will be a betting setup, but we’re not going to have betting windows.”

Eligible NFL teams can select a sportsbook sponsor and have sponsor signs appear in the stadium. Signs cannot be in a stadium’s lower level and will include the word “sponsor.”

This week, Sports Business Daily first reported the change in the NFL policy. It comes after months of study and approval by its Sports Betting Committee.

The NFL has already permitted casino sponsors. But no sports betting can be part of the deal.

Yahoo Sports reported seven regions which have an NFL team have sportsbooks or will likely get them in 2020. These include Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington, DC.

“We feel good about how [sports betting has] evolved state by state,” Halpin told ESPN. “We’re more and more excited about how sports betting is developing, and we’re now doing more in the space. We’re very positive about how it’s developing.”

In January 2019, the NFL named Caesars Entertainment as the league’s first official casino sponsor. Individual teams can have casino sponsorships.

As of early 2019, NFL teams could accept advertising from casinos and fantasy sports operators who also offer sports betting services, as long as they do not specifically promote their sportsbooks. Teams could sell their stadium naming rights to casinos, too.

Marketing Deal with NFL in 2019

In a reported $30 million deal over three years, Caesars Entertainment got exclusive rights last year to use NFL trademarks in the US and UK to promote the company’s casino properties and at league events, such as the Super Bowl and NFL Draft.

As far as individual teams, Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack, which is operated by Caesars, has agreed to a marketing pact with the Philadelphia Eagles. The deal, which includes in-stadium signs and branding, Eagles Legends appearances, and email and direct mail marketing, will build on Caesars existing exclusive deal with the NFL.

In contrast with other professional sports leagues, the NBA, MLB, and NHL have partnerships with MGM Resorts International, as well as sports betting partners. For instance, MLB and FanDuel announced an agreement to make the sportsbook operator an official gaming partner, CNBC reported in August. FanDuel has similar deals with the NBA and the NHL.

Caesars Sponsorship with D.C. United Soccer Team

Earlier this week, Caesars Entertainment announced in a press release a sponsorship deal with Major League Soccer (MLS) team D.C. United. The “Caesars Sports” logo can be placed on D.C. United jerseys. There will be other sponsorships at Audi Field, too.

It marks the second sleeve branding deal in the MLS. It is the first deal to feature a casino company, the league said in the statement.