Sports gambling worth billions to NFL: Report

A fully legalized, regulated sports betting industry could provide a $2.3 billion boost to the NFL’s annual revenue stream, according to a Nielsen Sports study commissioned by the American Gaming Association.

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Increased fan interest in NFL games, driven by sports betting, would be worth up to $1.75 billion annually in the form of more lucrative media rights deals, corporate sponsorships, tickets and merchandise sales, the data firm estimates. The NFL could generate another $573 million annually through deals with gambling operators and data providers.

"Legal, regulated sports betting will create huge new revenue opportunities for sports leagues – and the NFL could be the biggest winner of all,” said Sara Slane, the American Gaming Association’s senior vice president of public affairs. “Once legal sports betting expands across the country, the NFL could take in more than $2 billion a year, reinforcing how much sports leagues stand to gain from increased viewership and private partnerships with sports betting operators.”

Nielsen based its findings on a survey of more than 1,000 adult Americans, including some who self-identified as sports gamblers. The respondents were asked how the presence of a regulated sports betting market would impact their viewership and interest in the NFL.

The NFL opposed legalized sports betting for years before the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a federal ban last May. The ruling effectively allowed all 50 states to individually determine whether they should legalize sports betting.

Hours after the ruling, the NFL called on Congress to “enact a core regulatory framework” for a legal sports betting industry. The NBA, MLB and PGA Tour also support a federal framework, rather than piecemeal state-by-state legislation.

The NFL earned an estimated $14 billion in revenue in 2017.