There is no question that the National Football League (NFL) is the most popular sport in the United States, as well as one of the most popular sports globally. With games available to watch on TV, the internet, and mobile devices, it is near-impossible to find someone who does not know how or why the NFL is such a popular sport.
But what has changed recently regarding NFL betting? Has the line between legal and illegal sports betting narrowed, and if so, how? Does TV influence the way people behave on social media? Is the culture around sports gambling in America changing, and if so, how? These are just some of the questions NBA enthusiasts might ask themselves after examining recent trends and statistics regarding NFL wagering.
Legal vs. Illegal Sports Betting
It is important to note that prior to the 2018 season, the NFL actively discouraged wagering on their games. They stated that they would not accept or stand for legal sports betting, regardless of whether it was offered by a bookmaker or any other outlet. They even went so far as to threaten sanctions against any team which participated in or was directly associated with illegal sports wagering activities.
However, as the 2018 season began to wind down, the NFL softened their stance regarding sports betting, stating that they would accept it as long as it was done legally. At least part of this could be attributed to the fact that the 2018 season drew significantly fewer bets than the previous season, and those that did bet often did so in jurisdictions where it was legal. Nonetheless, the league and its teams still vehemently oppose unlicensed sports betting, and have taken steps to ensure that it remains illegal everywhere in the country.
The Internet & Mobile Gaming Influence
One of the most significant changes in NFL betting since its inception has been the proliferation of the internet and mobile gaming. It should come as no surprise that with the proliferation of the internet and mobile devices comes online bookmakers, and with them, online betting. This industry has transformed the way bets are placed and has made it possible to do so from the comfort of one’s home. Prior to the advent of the internet and mobile gaming, most people had to go to a sports bookie’s office in person to place a wager.
Now anyone can place a wager from the convenience of their home, regardless of whether they have a landline or mobile phone signal. This has significant advantages for both users and sports bettors, as well as the overall health of the NFL and its fan base.
Social Media Has All But Imperceptibly Shifted
Another major change in NFL betting is the way social media has influenced the way people interact and engage with each other around sporting events and their results. It should come as no great surprise that a sport which is so heavily publicized and followed on social media would see major changes in the way they are engaged with on this platform. It also follows that as more people use social media to follow sports and their results, the more likely it is that they will interact with other sports enthusiasts on this platform.
This trend is becoming more apparent as the NFL becomes more centrally involved in social media platforms. Teams and players have huge followings on Instagram and Twitter, and the league regularly uses these platforms to engage with their fans and disseminate information about upcoming games and events.
Prior to the 2019 season, the NFL banned all team logos and colors from being featured on social media platforms, deeming these elements as ‘promotions’ and limiting the amount of ‘paid advertising’ teams can do in order to keep their fans engaged. The purpose of this policy is to keep the games more ‘pure’ and protect the integrity of the competition. This decision was met with significant backlash from teams and their fans, and many legal experts question whether or not this policy will hold up in court.
Regardless, this was just one of the many ways the NFL has changed the way we wager on and follow their games. The future of sports betting, and the NFL in particular, seems assured as long as the government continues to fund and regulate sports leagues and their games. Without this support, it is unclear which legal betting markets would emerge, and whether or not they would promote sporting events, as we know them, or whether they would seek to replace them altogether.