NFL slots

NFL Slot Machines Signal The End Of The League’s Anti-Gambling Stance

After years of handcuffing players with a zero-tolerance policy for gambling and speaking out against the ills of sports betting, the NFL appears to be fully embracing not only sports betting but gambling in general.

Look no further than a recent announcement by the NFL and Aristocrat Gaming:

“The NFL and Aristocrat Gaming Wednesday announced an exclusive multi-year slot machine licensing agreement, with the gaming developer getting an exclusive global license to build land-based NFL-themed slot machines. Aristocrat also receives a non-exclusive license for virtual sports games.”

“The world of casino gaming is transforming, and the NFL is thrilled to be teaming up with industry leader, Aristocrat Gaming, with their proven track record in slot machine innovation and commitment to responsible gaming,” said NFL, Vice President, Gaming and Partnership Management, Rachel Hoagland in a statement. “Today’s slot machines offer engaging experiences akin to popular video game consoles that our fans adore, and we believe with Aristocrat’s vision, we can bring that exciting gaming experience to fans on the casino floor looking to show their love of football.”

While the slot machine deal is a relatively innocuous story, it represents the extent of the league’s attitude change on the issue.

The NFL and Sports Betting

The NFL has pivoted on sports betting since the repeal of PASPA in May 2018. After calling sports betting a threat to the integrity of the game pre-May-2018, the league has signed numerous sports betting partnerships post-May-2018.

The change wasn’t exactly sudden, although it’s often framed that way.

You can see the beginnings of the shift when you compare NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s statement that when it comes to integrity, “gambling would be No. 1 on my list,” to his 2017 statements at the annual NFL league meeting:

“I would probably tell you that I think society has probably had a little bit of a change with respect to gambling in general. I think we still strongly oppose it in that room, and otherwise, legalized sports gambling. The integrity of our game is No. 1. We will not compromise on that.”

“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 isn’t influenced by outside factors,” Goodell said. “That’s our No. 1 concern. That goes to me, what I consider the integrity of the game, and we will not relent on that.”

And then there are the more recent statements from the league after it partnered with numerous sportsbooks. “This group of operators will help the League to engage fans in responsible and innovative ways this season as the sports betting landscape continues to evolve,” Nana-Yaw Asamoah, NFL Vice President of Business Development, said.

The statements have shifted from complete and total opposition to a “well we still don’t like it” to we want to be heavily involved with this, but responsibly. The final point segues into the following header.

The NFL and Responsible Gambling

To their credit, the NFL has stepped up on the responsible gambling front. The league entered into a multi-year agreement with the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), the likes of which the gaming industry has never seen before.

As the NCPG’s Executive Director Keith Whyte said of the deal:

“With this partnership, we are able to exponentially enhance the NCPG’s ability to provide advocacy, awareness, and assistance on problem gambling. The league’s support of our advocacy efforts will help fund new communications initiatives, such as ResponsiblePlay.org and a PSA about problem gambling, expand gambling prevention services where they are most needed, and modernize our National Problem Gambling Helpline operations with updated capabilities.”

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