Can Gambling Save the NFL?

Written By Janice Doughtrey

The glitz and glamor of Las Vegas has attracted visitors for nearly a century. Starting with the legalization of gaming in the 1930’s, the 1950’s post-World War II boom, and the influx of mobsters and well-known celebrities whose careers depended on them, Las Vegas has become the self-professed Entertainment Capital of the world; a city-sized, adult amusement park, built to stimulate the senses, and put visitors at ease with the city’s disreputable, proscribed past. For a town where one can obtain and undertake whatever adventure one may desire, something has been conspicuously missing.

The newest visitor attracted to the allure of Las Vegas, and the allusions of big payouts, is the National Football League. This month, the Oakland Raider’s franchise announced its intention of moving to Las Vegas, adding an exciting new attraction to America’s largest adult theme park.

NFL viewership has shown signs of deteriorating, and attendance at regular season games has remained stagnant. If the league intends on remaining both relevant, and profitable, it will need to look at innovative ways of expanding its recognition, viewership, and bottom-line.

With NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, tacitly approving of the formerly verboten practice of gambling on league games, gambling may be opening new doors to growth within the league. Fantasy Football Leagues have been a boon to interest, personal participation, and viewership of the game. Attraction to Fantasy Football includes a personalized, technologically relevant manner of experiencing the game, promoting individual viewership, spurring enthusiasm for the game, its players, and the league.

Adding to the enthusiasm is the enticement of hitting it big, through placing wagers, with top Fantasy Football players earning $150,000 to $650,000 in a single season. For the die-hard players of Fantasy Football, the game is no laughing matter. These players are uncompromising in their love of the game, spending hours developing strategy in forming their teams, for not only bragging rights, but the lure of huge financial payouts.

The gamble by the Raiders could result in huge payoffs for the league, bringing evermore acceptance to Sin City, and a relaxation of the league’s Cardinal Rule of forbidding sports betting. Football is unquestionably as American as sports gets; gambling in Las Vegas is certainly a favored, American pastime. The wager of introducing the two may bring legitimacy, and profits, to both ventures.