NFL Reputation Did Not Suffer Due to Betting in London

October 27, 2014
NFL Reputation Did Not Suffer Due to Betting in London

Reports surfaced that the NFL would increase the number of London games in 2015. The Daily Mail was first to report that there would be five NFL games in London next year. The NFL denied the news. Even if the information is erroneous, the NFL adding more games in London would surprise few people.

The NFL has been playing games in London that would not make national television in the U.S. The teams that gave up home games this year went a combined 12-36 in 2013. All three have been known to have attendance problems.

Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars remove seats from inventory to declare sellouts so that home games may air on local TV. The Raiders cover 11,000 seats on “Mount Davis”. The number of seats tarped by the Jaguars rivals this number.

The Falcons do not remove any seats from its ticket sales to avoid blackouts, however, losing seasons have been known to hurt ticket sales. The Falcons had two blackouts during its 4-12 season in 2007.

None of these teams would be able to sell the 85,000 seats purchased by London NFL fans at Wembley Stadium. The London games sellout and do not cause any apparent harm to the league’s reputation. If they did, the league would probably not be returning year after year, nor would it have expanded the series to three games in 2014.

While the news of more London games was widely reported on Sunday, the NFL is preparing for a second sports betting legal battle in New Jersey. The NFL and four other sports leagues alleged that they would suffer “irreparable harm” if Monmouth Park had written betting tickets this weekend on its games. Meanwhile, gamblers in London were placing wagers at betting shops all over the city on the Lions/Falcons game, as well as all other NFL contests.

The irreparable harm argument is absurd considering the same league is spreading games to generate interest in a possible franchise in London. That is not the only betting friendly venue where NFL games have been played. The Buffalo Bills played one regular season game each year at Rogers Centre in Toronto between 2008 and 2013. Bettors may buy NFL parlay cards through the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

The NBA plays games in Toronto. As part of its agreement, NBA wagering is forbidden in Ontario. This was not a condition of the NFL playing in Toronto, nor was it a concern in London.

The NBA also demanded that Nevada ban betting on the 2007 All Star Game. Gaming regulators and sports books obliged.

The NFL seems to be picking and choosing where it feels sports betting should be allowed on its games. It is becoming difficult to take their argument in New Jersey seriously when it does not hold other jurisdictions where its games are played to the same standards.

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