Many NFL fans are worried about the integrity of the sport following a recent report on league owners and their ties to sportsbooks. The report came out a few days before the Kansas City Chiefs were set to play the San Francisco 49ers.
The Chiefs were already at the center of a crazy conspiracy alleging their team was propped up by the NFL and the Department of Defense in the hopes Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce’s girlfriend could endorse President Joe Biden for the 2024 election.
NFL owners are allowed to own a piece of sportsbooks
Jan 13, 2024; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates with wide receiver Rashee Rice (4) during the first half of a 2024 AFC wild card game against the Miami Dolphins at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
That idea is preposterous. But a report by Mike Florio of NBC Sports this week is very concerning how the league allows its owners to do business in the legal sports betting era. Owners are allowed to own up to five percent of a business that generates revenue from sports betting:
But it’s not just the cash that comes from sportsbook sponsorships; those who own NFL teams also may have equity interests in sportsbooks.
“There is no restriction on owning equity interests in casinos that have no sports betting,” the league told PFT on Wednesday. “An owner would be able to hold up to 5 percent in entities that generate revenue from sports betting operations, provided the individual has no involvement in management of the company (such as an officer or director or in a management role).”
Florio suggests owners having stakes in sportsbooks could constitute a conflict of interest:
At a time when the NFL is supposedly concerned about the impact of “normal incidents of the game” on potential “speculation, distrust, and allegations of point-shaving or game fixing,” permitting owners to have billion-dollar stakes in sportsbook companies becomes a huge potential problem.
If, for example, betting is lopsided on the Super Bowl, with DraftKings needing one of the teams to win and/or cover, any bad calls or other questionable moments leading to the other team winning and/or covering might look sketchy, to say the least. It definitely won’t look sketchy if they manage to keep the equity interests held by NFL owners a secret.
Sportsbooks want the San Francisco 49ers to win
Jan 28, 2024; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) holds the George Halas Trophy while after winning the NFC Championship football game against the Detroit Lions at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Fans have been claiming all season games are being rigged. Most of the evidence presented has been bad calls that seem accidental. After all, officials typically miss calls both ways during a game. There is one scenario fans will have to watch out for if they are worried about a rigged system.
Per Yahoo Sports, sportsbooks want the 49ers to win the Super Bowl, but they really don’t want the 49ers to win by one point in the Super Bowl tomorrow:
With the Chiefs staying slight underdogs, there’s a result that can lead to a worst-case scenario for sports books: a one-point 49ers win. If the 49ers win 24-23, 31-30 or by any other one-point margin, Chiefs bettors taking the points will still cash in. And books will have to pay out San Francisco futures tickets, too.
“There has been lopsided action on the Chiefs to win and cover the spread in the Super Bowl,” BetMGM senior trader Spencer Davis said. “BetMGM will be cheering for the 49ers. San Francisco winning by one point would be the worst outcome for the sportsbook, allowing Niners futures and Chiefs spread bets to all cash.”
NFL Fans reacted to Florio’s report
Jan 28, 2024; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Kansas City Chiefs fans in the stands against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship football game at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Here are the best takes of NFL fans reacting to Florio’s report on owners being allowed to own up to five percent of a sportsbook.