The NFL has settled out of court with a kids’ charity that sued after the league’s squeamishness on gambling ruined a children’s bowling party. The settlement sum is undisclosed.
The charity, Strikes for Kids, organized the event for more than 100 boys and girls at the 72-lane bowling alley inside the Sunset Station hotel and casino in Las Vegas. Not only would the kids enjoy an afternoon of bowling but they also would get to hang out with 25 NFL players. Sounds great.
Except the NFL got wind of the event and balked at the location. NFL gambling policy forbids players from making promotional appearances at casinos, and the league’s lawyers wrote to Strikes for Kids to tell them so in no uncertain terms.
The charity was forced to move the event at short notice to the Brooklyn Bowl, which had only 16 lanes available, but was apparently acceptable to the league because it was not located inside a casino building, although it is attached to the LINQ casino promenade.
Oz Behind the Curtain
The charity sued the league last year for fraud, claiming it had been misled by the league and had lost revenue as a result of the forced relocation. It also queried why one casino-linked bowling alley should be deemed OK but not the other.
It’s a good question, and the best person to answer it would be Roger Goodell, who Strikes for Kids requested take the stand to explain it himself. But Goodell wasn’t playing ball.
“There’s only one person that can tell us what’s the difference between the non-approved venue and the approved venue (Goodell),” attorney Julie Pettit, representing the charity, told a federal magistrate judge last month. “And he’s this Oz behind the curtain, this person that the NFL will not allow us to talk to. And everyone points their finger at him, saying he’s the only one that can make that determination.”
It’s telling that the case was settled out of court as the charity increased the pressure on Goodell to testify. The implication is he’d rather not publicly discuss the finer nuances of the NFL’s gambling policy, which is facing accusations of being muddled and conflicted.
On one hand, the league has unanimously approved the Oakland Raiders move to Vegas, to a stadium that is likely to be located just off the Strip, where sports books will be taking the bets on the games.
Meanwhile, teams are even allowed to take a limited amount of advertising from the casino industry. It was recently confirmed that the Arizona Cardinals are in discussion with casino company Gala River Gaming over selling naming rights to their stadium.
On the other hand, in March players were sanctioned by the league for taking part in the inaugural “Pro Football Arm Wrestling Championship” at the MGM Grand, despite the fact that all nearby gaming machines were switched off.
Goodell recently told reporters that the NFL was “strongly opposed” to gambling. “The integrity of our game is number one,” he said. “We will not compromise on that.”