Sports Betting Wall Demolished as WinStar World Casino Becomes Official Casino of Dallas Cowboys
Like any cheese-blooded Wisconsin native, I am all sorts of geared up for the start of the Green Bay Packers season. While there is inexperience up and down the roster and the team has its fair share of question marks, Aaron Rodgers is healthy, so the team is an automatic title contender. My excitement for the season doesn’t mean, though, that I hold the NFL itself near and dear to my heart. Just the opposite; aside from printing money, the league seems to be on the wrong side of everything. What entertains me to no end is the hypocrisy of the league when it comes to sports betting, on display once again with the partnership between the Dallas Cowboys and WinStar World Casino.
Since someone figured out how to put stiches in a pigskin, the National Football League has claimed that it wanted to stay far away from gambling, lest the “integrity of the game” be threatened. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill felt the same way, passing the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 1992, which made sports betting illegal across the United States. Four states- Nevada, Montana, Oregon, and Delaware – were grandfathered in, but for two and a half decades, only Nevada has had traditional, odds-based sports betting.
When New Jersey decided that it wanted to get in on the sports betting action, the NFL and the other professional sports leagues (plus the NCAA) fought it every step of the way. When New Jersey was pass legislation to legalize sports betting, the leagues would sue. Finally, this May, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down PASPA, opening the door for states to legalize sports gambling. During the months leading up to the decision, some leagues saw the writing on the wall and publicly accepted sports betting. Not the NFL, though. The NFL remained steadfast, fearing for the “integrity of the game.”
It was all a sham. The NFL knows full well that gambling and fantasy sports generate gobs of fan interest. Sure, there are millions of football fans in the U.S., not to mention around the world, but there are also millions of people who are not necessarily big fans of the sport who still tune in and pay attention because they are betting on the games. And even most people who do like football aren’t normally going to care about a random game, but I’ll tell you what, if I have money riding on the outcome of a Ravens-Bengals contest, there’s a good chance I’m finding a way to watch it or at least follow it on the internet. And guess what? That’s two more eyeballs watching commercials or generating page clicks on NFL.com. Multiply me by millions of people betting on football and you have a ton more indirect revenue for the NFL, and likely a lot of converted fans, too.
In August, with a few states having already started taking bets, the NFL changed its rules, even as it still tries to maintain that it fears for the “integrity of the game,” allowing teams to enter into sponsorship deals with casinos that have sportsbooks or that work with sportsbooks. The teams can accept advertisements from the casinos, though not specifically advertisements for sports betting. Television commercials can be aired before and after games. Teams can also sell the naming rights to their stadiums to casinos.
Teams are not allowed to take a cut of any of the casinos’ gambling revenue, though.
This was a long way to get back to the Dallas Cowboys deal, which made WinStar World Casino – situated on the Texas-Oklahoma border – the official casino of the team. This is the first such partnership in NFL history. The casino and the Cowboys can use each other’s logos in their marketing and, of course, can cross-advertise.
“The Dallas Cowboys take great pride in aligning themselves with the best brands in the world,” said the Dallas Cowboys’ owner and General Manager, Jerry Jones, during Thursday’s announcement. “It is a privilege to stand shoulder to shoulder as partners with such a prominent entertainment brand like WinStar World Casino.”
Bill Anoatubby, Governor of Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, the Tribe which owns WinStar, expressed his excitement, as well:
Hundreds of Chickasaws live in the Dallas area and the Dallas Cowboys are a vital part of the community. While this partnership is a great business deal that is only one of the reasons we are excited to be involved with the Dallas Cowboys and the Jones family. Jerry Jones is committed to enhancing the quality of life of Arlington youth and others in the community, which aligns closely with our mission to enhance the overall quality of life of the Chickasaw people.
This is not Jerry Jones’ first gambling business deal, as he also owns a small equity stake in daily fantasy sports leader, DraftKings.