It’s been a year and a half since the U.S. Supreme Court’s sports gambling ruling determined (rightfully) that lawmakers were wrong to have spent time putting together and approving the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, better known as PASPA, and that has meant big things for the NFL TV ratings.
Since the legislation was repealed in May of last year, states across the country have started to embrace sports gambling, and the results are exactly what everyone had hoped they’d be. New revenue streams and new jobs are being created and the leagues are generating more money, without the need of the so-called “integrity fee” they so desperately wanted.
Increase In TV Ratings For NFL
For the NFL, which has always been popular with sports gamblers, TV ratings have increased substantially. The co-owner of the New York Giants, Jonathan Tisch, attributes this directly to the ability for fans in more states to place bets on games and recently said during an interview on CNBC’s Power Lunch, “That is certainly a big influence. Obviously, if you’re betting on a certain game, you’re going to watch to see what happens and you’re going to watch until the bitter end because there are many games that are won on a field goal with three seconds left.”
NFL TV ratings climbed 5% last year after having gone through two years of falling numbers. This year, viewership is up another 5%, reaching 16.7 million people. Digital viewership has increased, as well, jumping 49% over last year’s figure.
Thirteen states now have legalized sports gambling online and many more are trying to put something together. By next year, the number could be double, which will help the ratings increase even more. If states can ultimately pool their operations, currently prohibited by the Federal Wire Act, the numbers could be even higher.
It’s no secret, at least not to anyone close to sports, that leagues live off of ad revenue. The more the NFL gain in the TV ratings, the more they can charge for advertising. It’s how TV works and what drives sports leagues to innovate in an effort to attract more attention.
That increase in revenue for the NFL from improved TV ratings , as well as any increase from leagues’ requirements, if implemented, for oddsmakers to use official league data, will ultimately funnel, in part, down to the teams, as well. The revenue-sharing structure in place will certainly need to be reconsidered so that all teams have an equitable cut, but this still has to be discussed and figured out by the leagues. Tisch is sure the NFL is already working on a solution, and states, “I’m sure the NFL is in constant conversation about how all this is going to unfold.”
The concern that legalized sports gambling will lead to players throwing games and bettors losing their homes as they bet big are grossly exaggerated. There are ways to ensure that none of that happens, and the leagues are already tasked with the responsibility of ensuring integrity in the games; if they can’t keep up, the fault lies with them.
Gambling has always been a part of sports, even if the majority of it went to offshore sportsbooks instead of to states and the leagues. With the reversal of PASPA, order is being brought out of chaos and states, as well as the leagues, are able to benefit financially.
What is being witnessed now is just the beginning of what’s to come and, as more opportunities are provided, sports gambling is going to be as commonplace as ordering a Tall Macchiato Latte at Starbucks.