Super Bowl LVIII Set to Smash Gambling Records as NFL Chief Accused of Hypocrisy

American Football Player Running With BallIf you’re going to allow Las Vegas to host a mammoth sporting occasion, you have to accept that some of the gaze is going to be averted towards The Strip and its various distractions.

But NFL chief Roger Goodell has been uncompromising in his stance: nobody associated with Sunday’s Super Bowl LVIII game will be allowed to place a wager in Sin City’s casinos.

Now, as far as the integrity of the Super Bowl goes, you’d argue that’s a good thing. But Goodell’s ban reaches to blackjack, roulette and the like too.

And that’s set against the backdrop of the mammoth amount that is expected to be wagered on Super Bowl LVIII – and the hypocrisy of Goodell taking the ‘Big Game’ to Las Vegas in the first place.

Viva Las Vegas

Around 71,000 people are expected to cram into Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium for the Super Bowl game on Sunday, with millions more heading to Sin City to soak up the atmosphere and, no doubt, have a good time in the city’s various gambling dens and watering holes.

The proliferation of physical sportsbook properties in Nevada, the availability of online bookmakers and the liberalisation of sports betting in many American states will lead to an inevitable boom in gambling on Super Bowl LVIII – in fact, the total betting handle taken by the sportsbooks is expected to breach $23 billion (£18.2 billion).

All told, an estimated 43 million people will have a flutter on the meeting between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francsico 49ers – an incredible increase of 41% on Super Bowl LVII a year ago.

Advocates of legal sports betting have argued that punting should be considered separately to online casino gaming when it comes to regulation – the latter are games of pure chance, whereas some skill is implied with sports betting.

But the Super Bowl does not exactly further such an argument, with so-called ‘prop bets’ taken on everything from who will win the pre-game coin toss to the colour of the Gatorade shower that the winning coach will typically find themselves enjoying at the end.

Oh, and that’s before mention is made of Taylor Swift prop bets, with the songstress’ latest squeeze, Travis Kelce, playing in the game.

With problem gambling rates on the rise in the United States and critics circling, the Super Bowl does the industry very few favours at all.

Happy Marriage

Sin City has played host to plenty of shotgun weddings over the years, with Elvis Presley (or somebody adjacent to Elvis) joining hands in marriage.

The NFL and the gambling industry are still in the honeymoon phase of their nuptials, but the pair could not be happier with how their arrangement is going.

Goodell and his fellow NFL chiefs have set a limit on how many gambling ads can be shown on TV during the Super Bowl broadcast – it’s still a very handsome maximum of four, which will set back each operator a cool $7 million (£5.5 million) for up to 30 seconds of screen time.

But then, with an audience of 113 million tuning in on TV – many millions of them of legal gambling age – why wouldn’t the betting firms fork out such a ludicrous sum?

The NFL, by the way, is estimated to earn around $2.3 billion (£1.8 billion) per season directly from sports betting, be it sponsorships, commercial partnerships and crossover media opportunities. They even make the likes of FanDuel and DraftKings their ‘official sportsbook partners’ in various states across the country.

The two evidently need each other – here comes that wedded bliss metaphor again, which makes Goodell’s blanket ban on the Super Bowl participants from entering Sin City all the more hypocritical; even entering a casino will see fines and even potentially suspensions levied upon those who flaunt the rule.

Atlanta Falcons’ Calais Campbell was just one of the NFL stakeholders left bemused by the stance. “When it comes to an away trip and I’m on a flight, or decide to go out for dinner and there’s a basketball game playing and the guys want to bet on the basketball game, I don’t see any harm in that,” he said.

Those with long memories may recall back to the early 2000s when the NFL banned any advertisements from Las Vegas sportsbooks and casinos – they didn’t like the implication of the ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ mantra at a time when they were trying to turn American football into a family friendly product.

Fast forward 20 years and, well, all bets are off.