NFL to allow betting lounges at stadiums

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
NFL to allow betting lounges at stadiums

Starting in the 2020 season, some NFL stadiums will be allowed to have betting lounges, and teams may accept sponsorships from sportsbook operators.

ESPN reports that the league continues to get more comfortable with the expanding legal sports-gambling market in the United States and is welcoming gambling.

Retail sportsbooks are still prohibited at NFL stadiums, and there will not be any physical betting windows.

However, stadiums in jurisdictions with legal sports gambling may offer betting lounges, showcasing mobile betting options, according to the NFL’s chief strategy and growth officer Chris Halpin.

“We’re allowing betting lounges,” Halpin told ESPN on Friday.

“Similar to daily fantasy lounges today, in an adult, discreet area, there will be a betting setup, but we’re not going to have betting windows.”

Under the new league policy, teams can designate official sportsbook sponsors and display signage in stadiums with some restrictions.

The word “sponsor” must be included in reference to sportsbooks, and sports betting signage remains prohibited in the lower bowls of stadiums.

Previously, casino sponsorships were allowed, but references to sportsbooks were not.

In January 2019, the NFL named Caesars Entertainment as the league’s first official casino sponsor, a deal that did not include sports betting.

Teams have accepted casino sponsorships for years, but without sports betting.

Sports Business Daily first reported the change in NFL policy.

Legal sportsbooks are operating in 14 states, including four that are home to NFL teams: Indiana, Nevada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Several more jurisdictions, including NFL hubs Colorado, the District of Columbia, Illinois and Tennessee, are expected to launch sports betting this year.

“We feel good about how it’s evolved state by state,” Halpin said of the growing American sports betting market.

“We’re more and more excited about how sports betting is developing, and we’re now doing more in the space. We’re very positive about how it’s developing.”

Chinese sports betting executive steps down

The chief executive of a Chinese sports betting group has temporarily stepped down amid an investigation into whether the company bribed lawmakers in Japan involved in legalising casino gambling there.

Asia Nikkei reported in January that Pan Zhengming, the chief executive of 500.com, will vacate his positions, including a seat on the board of directors, until an internal committee finishes a probe into “alleged illegal money transfers and the role played by consultants” in Japan, the company said in a statement to investors.

The board decision was made at Pan’s request, effective December 30, according to the company.

Tokyo prosecutors reported a former head of 500.com’s Japan operations and two former consultants last month.

They are suspected of bribing a member of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party to gain a favourable position for a bid to run one of the country’s upcoming casino resorts.

The sports betting group set up a Japanese subsidiary in 2017 with an eye to the proposed casinos, one of which was to be located on the northern island of Hokkaido.

The money linked to the alleged bribe appears to have entered Japan illegally, prosecutors say.

The Japanese lawmaker accused of receiving the money, Tsukasa Akimoto, was also arrested in December.

Akimoto is alleged to have received 3 million yen (US$28,000) in cash from 500.com suspects in 2017, as well as enjoying a family vacation at the company’s expense.

He has denied the charges.

One of the suspects told investigators that five Japanese lawmakers were given cash, sources familiar with the investigation say.

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