When we see “NFL” and “secret study” in the same sentence, our ears perk up.
Add in “sports betting,” and it’s time to stop what we’re doing and pay attention.
The NFL tackles sports betting
Here’s what NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport learned about a meeting that took place at this week’s owners meetings:
Like all the major sports leagues in the US, the NFL is preparing for a world where the US Supreme Court could lift the federal ban on wagering outside of Nevada. Goodell even talked about it at a press conference today, although it was full of a number of non-answers that didn’t tell us a whole lot.
The NFL usually has two major talking points when it comes to sports betting: It doesn’t support the legalization of wagering, and it is solely concerned with “the integrity of the game.”
But let’s get back to the “secret study,” which is far more exciting.
What’s in the box?
Right now, we can only speculate, as no one appears to be releasing the contents of the study. But here’s one nugget:
That sounds not as exciting as we were hoping. Ian had us covered, though:
“Patterns of behavior” is much more exciting. Might those “patterns” be that people watch more sports when they bet on the games? And they watch games longer if they have a monetary interest on them?
We’ll go ahead and guess that was in there, since it’s true and the data would likely bear that out. It’s probably the kind of basic thing the NFL would put in a study for owners to read.
There was probably a lot about “integrity” in the study, too, as that’s the word that most often comes out of Goodell’s mouth when talk to turns to sports betting. Here’s what he said Wednesday:
“The No. 1 thing that was endorsed repeatedly by our membership was the integrity of our game, though. We have to make sure that whatever environment we’re working in … we have to make sure we are operating in an environment where we can protect that integrity of the game.”
Smart money would have said Goodell would have said “integrity” about a dozen more times, but two is all we got.
So integrity matters were probably in the study, too. Right now, there’s a massive black market for sports betting in the US, and a legal market would be better for integrity. Regulators and the leagues would have far more insight into what’s going on with wagering if it were legal in the US.
Does the NFL think a legal, regulated environment is better, and did the study find that to be true?
Those would be interesting things to know. But until the secret study leaks, we’ll just have to guess.