The National Football League and its teams continue to become increasingly cozy with the gaming industry. Just a couple of years ago the NFL was one of the most virulent opponents of legal sports betting in America but now their attitude is clearly ‘if you can’t beat them, profit from them’ just like it is with every other consumer facing industry. It won’t be long until the NFL is as comfortable with sports betting and other forms of gaming as the English Premier League. Just as long as the money keeps flowing its way….
The most recent sign of this change in attitude is an expansion of a sponsorship deal between the New York Jets and Gibraltar based/London listed 888 Holdings. The two entities already had a partnership that gave 888casino a ‘presence within the Jets MetLife Stadium’ and the new arrangement will allow Jets logos and branding to appear on the 888casino website and app in New Jersey. This will coincide with a promotional campaign across the Jets’ websites and social channels. 888casino will also serve as the official game sponsor for the October 21st Monday Night Football game against the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
888 head of group commercial Yaniv Sherman was effusive in his praise for the new sponsorship agreement:
“The extension of the deal between the New York Jets and 888casino for a second year in a row only reaffirms our expansion efforts and reiterates the interest in online gaming within the US sports community. 888casino already has a unique position in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey for online gaming.”
“The extension of the 888casino and Jets deal will continue to strengthen awareness of the 888casino brand and will aid the group’s growth strategy towards becoming a leading operator in the developing and potentially significant US online gaming market.”
NY Jets senior vice president of corporate partnerships Ian Lasher commented:
“We are proud to continue this partnership with 888casino in the gaming space allowing us to further engage and provide experiences for our fans in the mobile and digital world.”
When the Jets and 888 first agreed to a deal last September there were suggestions that it could be ‘controversial’ and contravene NFL regulations on gaming advertising. The NFL relaxed rules on gaming related sponsorship deals in 2018–sponsorship deals were allowed but the gaming entity was still prohibited from advertising sports betting platforms in partnership with NFL teams.
Shortly after the original deal was signed in 2018, SportsPro Media reported on a NY Post story that called into question the Jets relationship with 888:
“Bright orange banners which adorn the outside of the team’s MetLife Stadium are displaying the branding of 888.com – the sports betting site associated with the casino, going against regulations which prevent the direct promotion of sports gambling sites.”
“The New York Post says the Jets have defended their position, claiming that they have not violated the rules because the betting site’s official name – 888sport – does not appear on the branding. The 888.com website – it notes – also allows users to access poker and online casino games.”
“However, the 888.com site at the centre of the dispute also clearly features betting opportunities; the homepage features a clickable image link of a football player, with the link directing the customer to available match bets.”
“Neither the Jets nor 888 Holdings chose to comment when contacted by the US newspaper.”
As it would turn out, controversy was minimal and the world did not fall off its axis. The biggest surprise was that the NFL and media that reports on it acted like adults instead of their usual tendency toward virtue signaling and hand wringing over phony moral controversies.