With states just starting to offer sports betting after the US Supreme Court decision in May, many people are watching how the major sports leagues will react when their seasons begin. CBS has said that its broadcasters won’t refer to sports betting in any way during their NFL broadcasts.
NFL sports betting stance
In May, the Supreme Court overturned a federal ban on sports betting, leaving the decision of legalization up to the individual states.
The major sports organizations in the country, such as the NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAA and the NFL, did everything in their power to prevent that decision. They filed lawsuits and lobbied on all levels to stop sports betting from coming into effect. Ultimately, their efforts proved to be fruitless.
When the Supreme Court made the decision, the NFL quickly proposed to Congress that widespread industry controls should be implemented.
The sports organizations were concerned that sports betting would affect the integrity of their events. They also didn’t want sports betting operators to benefit financially from the league’s intellectual property without being given a cut of the pie.
This led to numerous sports organizations, most notably the NBA and the MLB, to push for so-called integrity fees. Such a fee would be a percentage of each wager placed on an event in their jurisdiction. So far, no state has implemented an integrity fee.
NFL’s appeal to Congress called for significant levels of consumer protection, along with protection of the NFL’s intellectual. It did not mention integrity fees.
However, a couple of points hinted that the league should receive some form of compensation. There are extensive partnerships with the league to ensure that reliable data is provided.
Those offering sports betting need access to this data and the NFL wants these operators to pay a fee for this service. It also poses the question of the difference between data that is private information and data that is proprietary and therefore protectable.
It appears that the NFL does not want the negative publicity associated with pushing for integrity fees and it seems the league will now be content with driving out the significant illegal gambling operators.
CBS’s NFL coverage
CBS has outlined its intentions for coverage of the 2018 NFL season. According to the president of CBS Sports, Sean McManus, announcers have been told not to make gambling references during their NFL broadcasts.
Over the years, there have been veiled references to Las Vegas sportsbooks, but it seems that absolutely no references to sports betting will be allowed.
One of the main reasons for this approach is the network’s partnership with the NFL, which doesn’t want sports betting to attract any attention. There has been no word issued yet about whether the other major television networks that cover the NFL, ESPN, NBC, and Fox, will follow a similar approach.
With those partnerships lasting until 2022, the networks will want to remain on good terms with the league.
The NCAA does not have this level of influence over its television partners. Certain telecasts have drawn criticism for discussing gambling, but there is nothing that the NCAA can do about it.
It certainly is significant that CBS has enacted this policy and it may become an important issue when the NFL and the networks that cover the league have to negotiate television rights again.
Television networks are a lot more reliant on live sports because their viewership for other programming is on the decline because of on-demand services like Netflix.