LAS VEGAS, NV – JANUARY 26: Bettors line up to place wagers after more than 400 proposition bets for Super Bowl LI between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots were posted at the Race & Sports SuperBook at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino on January 26, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

It’s no secret that a large chunk of the NFL’s runaway dominance of the American sports market is due to gambling, even though it’s only legal in one state.

But the NFL has been hesitant to embrace betting as a legitimate source of revenue or marketing. Roger Goodell’s hardline stance on the issue hasn’t changed, even with the league considering the possibility of a team in Las Vegas.

Now, a recent study has shown the league’s resistance to embracing sports gambling might be costing the league on TV and in ad revenue.

MoffettNathanson Research recently release a report called NFL Season Recap – It’s All Over But the Crying, which sadly is paywalled. However, LegalSportsReport managed to get their hands on some of the findings:

“One potential change in the direction of viewership and ad dollars would be an evolution in the NFL’s view of legalized national sports gambling. …

Up to this point, the NFL has been reluctant to embrace [NBA Commissioner Adam] Silver’s point of view. Perhaps that would change if broader business decisions — and the health of the NFL’s TV partners — were taken more into account.”

Some of the numbers included in the report are pretty striking. It says that should sports gambling be legalized at the federal level, some 10% of non-bettors would likely bet on sports, which would increase the time spent by viewers watching NFL games. And sports bettors watch ESPN and NFL Network more than the average Joe, a trend that would be further inflated if sports betting were legalized and discussed on TV. Whether or not that would help each network pick up subscribers, the viewing numbers would almost certainly go up.

“This report from the leading media analyst on Wall Street shows TV partners why legalizing sports betting would boost viewership and grow advertising revenue,” said Sara Slane, the American Gaming Association’s senior vice president of public affairs, in a release highlighting the sports betting component of the report. “We invite broadcasters and advertisers to join our growing coalition to advocate for Congress to lift the failing federal ban on sports betting.”

So would legalizing sports betting, or at least changing their public stance on the issue, help the NFL pick up some of its lost TV numbers? It’s certainly a plausible theory, especially if fans have money on games they otherwise wouldn’t be interested in. But since Congress isn’t showing any willingness to budge on this issue, and the NFL is still firmly against legalized betting, at least publicly, there won’t be any headway too soon.


About Matt Lichtenstadter

Recent Maryland graduate. I've written for many sites including World Soccer Talk,, Testudo Times, Yahoo's Puck Daddy Blog and more. Houndstooth is still cool, at least to me. Follow me @MattsMusings1 on Twitter, e-mail me about life and potential jobs at matthewaaron9 at Yahoo dot com.

4 thoughts on “Study says legal sports betting would boost NFL TV ratings and ad revenue

  1. I mean what other reason is there for me to be watching Monmouth, or Oakland, or Rhode Island play a more or less meaningless college basketball game?

    1. The competition, perhaps?
      But, no, go ahead and tie in with gambling. There’ll never be anything like point-shaving or game-throwing in the NFL, right?

  2. Now would appear to be the time to push for national legalization with the casino owner in the White House.

    Though I would also imagine that the leagues are sitting on a potentially significant profit driver if they got into the bookmaking business themselves- no reason to not take bets in-house and advertise the holy hell out of it on the NFL Network.

  3. There is no way Congress would do anything to damage Las Vegas – so don’t hold your breath.

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