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Thanks to the new CBA, sports gambling could be the newest revenue booster for NFL clubs




Imagine this: Drew Brees just threw a 20-yard touchdown to Michael Thomas to take a 20-17 lead at halftime over the Atlanta Falcons. You burst out of your seat and head toward the concessions to find a long line for the... slot machines?


Yes, that very well could be a reality in just a short time.


The inclusion of gambling revenue in the 2020 NFL CBA will prove to be the most impactful change on business operations for NFL clubs. [1] The new CBA recognizes teams’ ability to offer sportsbooks inside/near stadiums and factors gambling revenue into the All Revenues (“AR”) category of the league. [2] All football gambling-related revenue inside, attached, or near (within two-hundred feet of the stadium wall or ticket entry, whichever is greater) the stadium during the season will go toward the revenue split between players and teams. Non-football gambling, like slot machines, in stadiums during the season will also be factored. [3] Even fifty percent of offseason gambling revenue in the stadium (and thirty-three percent of offseason gambling near the stadium) will count toward the AR. [4] This new inclusion is a stark change from the previous CBA.

The only mention of gambling in the 2011 CBA was within Appendix A and J. [5] Under section fourteen, titled “Integrity of the Game,” player contracts stated the Commissioner could fine, suspend, or terminate the player’s contract if the player “knowingly associates with gamblers or gambling activity.” [6] The contract stated the league did not want to impair “public confidence in the honest and orderly conduct of NFL games.” [7] Times have changed since 2011. Sports gambling, specifically within fantasy sports, have grown immensely since the last CBA as sites such as DraftKings have jumped onto the scene. While public opinion on sports betting is still uncertain, the Supreme Court opened the floodgates in 2018 for states to legalize sports betting in their jurisdiction. [8] As of March 26, 2020, seventeen states have legalized sports betting, and several more are on their way toward legalization. [9]


The NFL took steps toward sports gambling in early 2019 when it signed Caesars to a sponsorship deal; several teams followed suit. [10] Because of the popularity of fantasy sports and the ease of up-to-date bets with technology, sports gambling has become an entertaining way for fans to feel more connected to the game. Estimates vary regarding how lucrative sports gambling could be for the NFL, but the American Gaming Association reported the NFL could generate an additional $2.3 billion in annual revenue. [11] For comparison’s sake, the NFL earned only $1.25 billion from sponsorship revenue for the 2016-17 year. [12] Regardless of the figure, sports gambling will very likely play a major role in the business operations of clubs. Teams in sports betting states will investigate whether sportsbooks and slot machines in stadiums will be valuable revenue sources.


Sports gambling may be even more valuable for clubs depending on how it is categorized in the league’s AR. The 2020 CBA lists three AR categories shared with player costs: League Media, NFL Ventures/Postseason, and Local. [13] Players receive fifty-five percent of League Media, forty-five percent of NFL Ventures/Postseason, and only forty percent of Local revenue. [14] Starting in 2021, players cannot receive less than forty-eight percent and no more than forty-eight and a half percent of the AR. [15] Gambling will likely be considered Local AR, which means players will receive less of what could be a very valuable commodity in the NFL. Although players must receive at least forty-eight percent of the AR, the half percentage point between the minimum and maximum revenue split could prove valuable. Clubs can also take advantage of offseason gambling, when they can keep more of the profits (since only fifty or thirty-three percent go toward AR).


As long as it is legal, I imagine every NFL club will feature sports gambling in and near stadiums within the next three-to-five years. As a consumer, do you like that? Would you enjoy being able to bet inside the stadium on up-to-date lines as the game changes? Would you enjoy playing slot machines at halftime? I suppose only time will tell.

The sports gambling scene has transformed since 2011, and the 2020 NFL CBA reflects that change. Of all the changes in the 2020 NFL CBA, sports gambling will have the most impact on the business operations of clubs – and likely in positive ways.

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[1] See 2020 NFL CBA art. XII, § 1(a)(10)(B).

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] See 2011 NFL CBA Appendix A; 2011 NFL CBA Appendix J.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Murphy v. NCAA, 138 S. Ct. 1461 (2018).

[9] Ryan Rodenberg, United States of sports betting: An updated map on where every state stands, ESPN.com (March 26, 2020), https://www.espn.com/chalk/story/_/id/19740480/the-united-states-sports-betting-where-all-50-states-stand-legalization.

[10] Zack Jones, NFL Inks First Casino Sponsorship with Caesars Hinting To Shifting Stance On Sports Betting, Forbes (Jan. 4, 2019, 03:26 PM), https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackjones/2019/01/04/nfl-inks-first-casino-sponsorship-with-caesers-hinting-to-shifting-stance-on-sports-betting/#652c09ac3918.

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] 2020 NFL CBA art. XII, § 6(a).

[14] 2020 NFL CBA art. XII, § 6(c)(i).

[15] 2020 NFL CBA art. XII, § 6(c)(ii)(B).

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