Legalized Sports Betting Would Increase NFL Viewership, Says Nielsen

on September 20, 2016
legalized sports betting NFL Roger Goodell

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell remains opposed to legalized sports betting, even though a new study finds that regulation would lead to higher television audiences and increased revenue for the league. (Image: USATSI/CBS Sports)

Legalized sports betting on the federal level would increase overall television ratings for the National Football League (NFL) and therefore also dramatically increase advertising revenues for the league and broadcast networks.

In a commissioned study by the American Gaming Association (AGA), Nielsen Sports, whose parent company is the analytical leader in monitoring television audiences, concluded that the relationship between sports betting and the NFL would be beneficial to both parties.

Nielsen polled 1,000 adults aged 18 and over to understand their betting habits. An additional 500 known NFL bettors were also surveyed.

Nielsen found that adults who placed a financial stake on an NFL contest watched 19 more games during the regular season than the football fan who didn’t place any bets. Nielsen said sports bettors account for a quarter of the total NFL audience, but watched 47 percent of all minutes viewed.

“The federal government ban on sports betting is failing miserably,” AGA President Geoff Freeman said in a statement. “Broadcasters and advertisers who desire highly engaged viewers would reap the benefits of shifting tens of millions of sports bettors from the $150 billion underground betting market to a legal, transparent environment.”

Of the NFL betting demographic, 46 percent placed wagers on the outcome of a single game. Just 28 percent participated in a daily fantasy sports (DFS) contest.

Passing on PASPA

Since 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) has prohibited sports betting in the US. Nevada is of course the lone exception, as the state was grandfathered past the federal mandate due to its sports betting markets prior to 1992.

Many believe it’s time to repeal PASPA.

Gambling has greatly expanded in America over the last quarter-century. Only 12 states do not have either commercial or tribal gambling in 2016.

State lawmakers have largely exhibited no qualms in legalizing gambling for traditional casino table games and slots, but have remained opposed to sports betting.

New Jersey tried to change that this year but a federal appeals court blocked the market’s legalization after the NCAA, along with the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL, sued the Garden State. The court ruled PASPA prevented Jersey from allowing sports betting, even though the state contended federal laws cannot give preferential treatment to certain states.

Goodell Not Good on Vegas

Though Freeman argues that encouraging Congress to abolish PASPA would lead to more viewership, more advertising revenue, and more robust television contracts for professional football, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell remains opposed.

Last weekend, Goodell told reporters that he would prefer the Oakland Raiders to stay in California. The Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee recently voted to approve $750 million in public funding to build an NFL stadium should the Raiders opt to move to Las Vegas.

“Well, you never want to see a community lose their franchise,” Goodell stated. “I think we can do it in Oakland. There’s a solution there, but it takes the community to help identify it.”

Regardless, Raiders owner Mark Davis is ready to skip town for Sin City.

“If Las Vegas comes through with what we’ve been talking about, I’m going to fight like hell to be there,” Davis told the Review-Journal.