NFL Commissioner Releases Statement on Gambling

Roger Goodell asks for Congress to set up rules for states to follow

A week ago the Supreme Court ruled that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a law that had stood for 25 years and more or less made illegal sports betting outside Nevada.

Immediately several states began angling to set up betting windows, including New Jersey, the state that spearheaded the effort to allow states to decide on their own whether or not to allow gambling on sporting events.

One of the major concerns of this development is the increased possibility of sporting events being fixed. On Monday the NFL, who along with the NCAA had openly opposed the proposed change in legislation, issued a statement from Commissioner Roger Goodell outlining its concerns and making a fairly large request from Congress:

As it was for my predecessors, there is no greater priority for me as the Commissioner of the National Football League than protecting the integrity of our sport.  Our fans, our players and our coaches deserve to know that we are doing everything possible to ensure no improper influences affect how the game is played on the field. This week's ruling by the Supreme Court has no effect on that unwavering commitment.

We have spent considerable time planning for the potential of broadly legalized sports gambling and are prepared to address these changes in a thoughtful and comprehensive way, including substantial education and compliance trainings for our clubs, players, employees and partners. These efforts include supporting commonsense legislation that protects our players, coaches and fans and maintains public confidence in our games. We are asking Congress to enact uniform standards for states that choose to legalize sports betting that include, at a minimum, four core principles:

1.    There must be substantial consumer protections;
2.    Sports leagues can protect our content and intellectual property from those who attempt to steal or misuse it;
3.    Fans will have access to official, reliable league data; and
4.    Law enforcement will have the resources, monitoring and enforcement tools necessary to protect our fans and penalize bad actors here at home and abroad.

The NFL did not give many specifics, instead keeping to its tradition of being mostly vague when attempting to make a grand statement. For example, what “consumer protections” are the league looking for and how many resources are adequate for their ideas?

With National Football League franchises in 22 different states things would be substantially easier for the league if there was a federal list of standards for any and all states that want to legalize sports betting to adhere to.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also said professional basketball is “… in favor of a federal framework that would provide a uniform approach to sports gambling in states that choose to permit it.”

Both the NFL and MLB Players Associations also commented on the decision but their concerns are more aimed at player safety and rightfully so. For example, it becomes a lot easier to beat the Patriots if Tom Brady is out of the game so it’s not out of the realm of possibility for a gambler to throw a whole lot of cash at someone involved in a game to take a cheap shot at the quarterback’s knees.

In addition to New Jersey, California, New York, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Mississippi have all either introduced or passed a bill to legalize sports betting in some form.

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