While the NFL is banking upwards of $1 billion in its sponsorships with sportsbooks, players remain barred from using their name or likeness to promote sports betting.
The double standard, which also applied to alcohol sponsorships, is “another thing that’s fairly hypocritical” in the NFL, says TeamIFA president Blake Baratz. The agency’s NFL player clients include Carolina Panthers wide receiver Adam Thielen, Washington Commanders’ defensive end Jonathan Allen and Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Rachaad White.
“Anheuser-Busch and DraftKings are two big partners. But if you’re a player—it’s fine for the companies to pay the owner, pay the organization and pay the league—but can’t pay the player. I think it’s another thing that’s fairly hypocritical,” Baratz told Front Office Sports.
This week, Baratz’s agency is hosting the IFA Empowerment Summit in Wayzata, Minnesota. The NFL’s current policy on player betting endorsements differs from the NBA, whose new CBA reportedly allows athletes to promote and invest in sports betting companies.
MLB and NHL players are also allowed to promote sports betting companies. Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon signed an ambassador deal with the now-defunct MaximBet in 2022, while NHL star Connor McDavid endorses BetMGM and Auston Matthews has a deal with Bet99.
“The NFL operates a little differently because they’re like the bully in the room, and they don’t need anyone else—they’re just a carousel of players,” Baratz said. “In basketball, if LeBron James and Steph Curry, some of these other guys, say this is how we want things to go, they kinda have to do that. It’s more about the player than the NBA logo.”
In addition to the NFL’s league-level sponsorships with sportsbooks such as DraftKings, FanDuel, and Caesars, more than 25 NFL teams have at least one sports betting or daily fantasy sponsor. NFL sports betting sponsorship revenue increased 40% last season, according to Sponsor United. The league has reinforced its gambling policy this offseason after five players were suspended in April for violations related to betting on sports.
“In the NFL, it’s different. Everyone wears helmets, they’re in and out of lineups. That NFL shield is really powerful and the revenues they’re generating are historic—the players don’t have much leverage, so they can kinda bully ‘em around,” Baratz said. “They don’t need to have a minor league system, they have the NCAA. People are gonna watch and go to games, there’s a reason they pay Roger Goodell $60 million dollars a year.”
Source: Front Office Sports
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