The NFL, the biggest sport franchise in the U.S., now wants an advertising foothold in gambling, a legitimate growing business that has long looked to the league to become a marketing partner of sorts.
The NFL has changed its policy regarding gambling advertising -- but with a host of restrictions. Gambling ads can only appear in local radio broadcasts, program guides given to people at games, and upper-level stadium signage -- essentially anything controlled by the teams themselves.
But gambling ads are still not allowed in higher profile TV or digital media messaging. And the creative in the ads that are allowed cannot refer to football in particular, sports in general or any related activities. Also, no players, coaches or teams are allowed to endorse any form of gambling.
Indeed, a NFL spokesman has said: “We remain steadfast in our opposition to the proliferation of gambling on NFL games… There is a distinction between accepting advertising in a limited fashion and gambling on the outcome of our games.”
Why change its advertising restriction now, you might wonder? The NFL didn’t say specifically -- only that after viewing other sports gambling ad policies, it believed a change was in order.
What is certainly true is that gambling is a fast, growing and legal business. The NFL wants its teams be able align themselves locally with these general businesses, much of which pertains to more standard casino-oriented stuff like card games, slot machines and craps.
But casinos that advertise cannot have “sport books” -- sports betting services. And gambling ads also have to include “responsible gambling” messages.
For years casinos – and big gambling destinations like Las Vegas - - have tried to get commercials into the Super Bowl, either via the national broadcast or by buying local spot. All have been routinely rejected.
Then in 2010, the NFL clubs were permitted to accept advertising from the city of Las Vegas, provided such ads contained no references to, or depictions of, gambling or casinos.
The NFL is very profitable -- and we imagine most of the clubs are, too.
The NFL wants to make sure gambling ads are targeted to adults – and therein may be the connection. Both the NFL and gambling are entertainment for many adults. It makes sense that casinos want to reach NFL customers.
There are advertisers and sponsors the NFL already lets in the door which can be troubling to some people. Certain other legal activities done to excess, like drinking beer, can also be a problem.