The American sports betting market is in an interesting, unprecedented place. After years of condemnation, rules are being relaxed and it is finding its way across the country and across the sporting spectrum. From baseball to basketball, hockey to horse racing, punters are being drawn in from Philadelphia to Phoenix and everywhere in between - but football is keeping its distance for now.
The country's most watched sport, attracting 15.8 million viewers on average for a primetime televised fixture, is wary of the impact that betting could have. We know that when the fans aren't on board with something then they'll be loud and clear in their disdain - so the authorities are making sure that gambling integration is not just a thrown into the pan, and it's a refreshing approach that will pay dividends in the long run.
Gambling is a touchy subject in the States, and mistreating it in football is a risky business. The sport doesn't need more fans - although constant growth is always a goal, it's not necessary to keep the sport alive. In this instance, we could see a betting revolution as a result of the sport taking a more considered approach.
In the UK, gambling is quite in-your-face. Half-time adverts show you the latest in-play odds, TalkSport commentators read out live prices and 10 of the 20 Premier League sides have betting vendors as front of shirt sponsors, a number that is inflated in the EFL. In the US, the market is in its infancy and legal restrictions make it much more subtle - the NFL is keen to hold on to that for the time being. As a result, bookmakers and the sport's regulatory body could, over time, create a much more engagement-driven, safe and insightful gambling market that adds a new level of interaction to the sport, rather than a mere money-spinner.
The N.F.L.’s basic position is that it’s still early for legalized sports betting and the league doesn’t want to annoy the large portion of its audience that does not and will not bet. And with an enormous mass-market audience already, the N.F.L. contends it will benefit from legalization less than other sports. Consonant with that caution, the N.F.L. has far fewer betting-related deals than other American sports leagues.