Roger Goodell says NFL still opposed to legalized sports betting

ByDavid Purdum ESPN logo
Friday, April 7, 2017

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday that league ownership remains opposed to legalized sports betting because of integrity concerns, while also acknowledging that the regulatory framework in Nevada's legal sports betting market could be "beneficial" when it comes to the Raiders eventually playing in Las Vegas.

Owners voted 31-1 to approve the Raiders' move from Oakland to Las Vegas, but Goodell said having a franchise located in the home of the largest legal sports betting market in the United States will not change the league's stance on gambling.

"I think we still strongly oppose [among ownership] legalized sports gambling," Goodell told reporters at a news conference wrapping up the owners meetings in Phoenix. "The integrity of our game is No. 1. We will not compromise on that."

Nevada gaming regulations allow for the NFL to request that the state's legal sportsbooks be prohibited from taking bets on games involving the Raiders once they've moved to Las Vegas, but Goodell said the league isn't contemplating that option at this point, "in large part because you have the regulatory environment there, which actually could be beneficial in this case."

The NFL would have until 30 days prior to the team's first game once it has moved to Las Vegas to make the request to prohibit betting. The Nevada Gaming Commission would have the final say on the issue.

"We'll study it further, but I think at this point in time that's not our position," Goodell said in regard to requesting any betting prohibition.

While other professional sports leagues, including the NBA and Major League Baseball, have pivoted their position on legal sports betting and expressed the belief that a regulated market overseen by licensed officials better protects the integrity of the games, Goodell says the NFL still views legalized gambling as a threat.

"That is a major risk for us," Goodell said. "I think we have to make sure that we continue to stay focused on making sure that everyone has full confidence that what you see on the field is not influenced by any outside factors. That's our No. 1 concern. That goes to what I consider the integrity of the game, and we will not relent on that."

Goodell's characterization of strong opposition to legalizing sports betting contradicts a report from last week, which quoted an anonymous AFC owner as saying, "Sports gambling is going to be legal. We might as well embrace it and become part of the solution, rather than fight it. It's in everyone's best interests for it to be above-board."