NFL Owners Are Singing “Viva Las Vegas”

The Super Bowl is headed to Las Vegas.

Once upon a time, National Football League owners and the Green Bay Packers Board of Directors along with various commissioners took a very dim view of having people legally bet on the NFL’s product games. The NFL launched an all-out campaign against legalized sports gambling after New Jersey voters said yes to sports betting in the state in 2011. The NFL went to court to stop Delaware’s attempt to legalize sports gambling. Delaware first opened casinos and by 2009 decided to open sports betting parlors in the state’s casinos. The NFL sued to stop it and won. The NFL thought legalized sports gambling would sully its product even though football became more popular with the invention of the point spread. The NFL was never going to let Las Vegas have a team because Nevada legalized all forms of gambling in 1931. The Supreme Court of the United States legalized sports gambling in 2018 and the NFL which spent decades fighting legalized sports gambling, embraced it. Las Vegas got an NFL team in 2020 when Mark Davis moved his Oakland Raiders franchise to the Nevada city. Now Las Vegas is getting a Super Bowl. Less than a decade ago, any mention of Las Vegas in NFL circles was strictly taboo.

In 2013, the National Football League told Disney/ABC that it could not run a Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority ad. The NFL in those days had a clause in its television partnership contracts that prohibited gambling-related advertising. The ad did not mention gambling. The NFL during the same time period took Southwest Airlines money with the commercials talking about going to Las Vegas. The spots had a tagline, ”The less you blow on air fare, more you can blow in Vegas.” The NFL was anti-sports gambling then. Today, the NFL makes money from gambling and Las Vegas is fine.

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s. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)