The NFL is moving closer to welcoming sports betting with open arms.
This upcoming season, the league will allow teams to build betting lounges inside of their arenas and acquire sportsbook partners for the first time.
The lounges won’t offer physical in-person betting but these lounges would act as designated spots for betting from mobile phones within a team’s arena.
Sponsors for the lounges will be able to sign up interested customers. They’d also display things such as live odds on monitors within the area.
Since sports betting isn’t legal in every state, some teams won’t have the option of getting in on the fun. Only licensed sportsbooks in each state will be able to become sponsors for the teams and lounges. For example, that sponsor could then run the betting lounge inside Lucas Oil Stadium, if the Colts end up deciding to add one.
The NFL is becoming more open to betting
Over the years, the NFL has been very adamant in their stance against sports betting. That stemmed from the league’s concerns about the integrity of its product.
However, Commissioner Goodell and company have eased back a bit on that stance recently.
Last year, the league made Caesars Entertainment one of its official sponsors. Although that $90 million three-year deal didn’t include sports betting, it showed that the league was at least willing to work with casinos in some capacity.
It’s clear that the league is still keeping its eyes on sports betting for the future.
How do the Colts fit into sports betting?
Gambling on football reigned supreme during the first few months after Indiana legalized sports betting. When football is on around the country, it’s the most popular sport to bet on.
As football season winded down, Indiana’s sports betting handle dropped along with it.
As the only NFL team in the state, the Colts will be at the pinnacle of sports betting throughout the state for that handful of months every year.
Indianapolis consistently ranks near the bottom in the NFL in average attendance.
However, the team also has one of the league’s smallest stadiums. The Colts have 97% of the seats at Lucas Oil Stadium filled for an average home game.
It’s not clear if the Colts will decide to add a sports betting lounge to the stadium, although it could be one more amenity to help make sure those fans keep coming.
In terms of a sponsor for a potential betting lounge, the Colts have some options.
Back in October, FanDuel became the “Official Fantasy Partner” of the Colts. That deal was only in place for the 2019-2020 season.
However, everything doesn’t have to be uniform.
The team may go back to well with FanDuel for its fantasy partnership. The Colts might also choose a different company altogether to sponsor a potential betting lounge. Some teams around the league have inked multiple partnerships at once, which is just another route that the Colts could take.
How will the rest of the NFL handling this?
Teams like the Cowboys, Chiefs, and Patriots have already partnered with DraftKings for fantasy lounges.
Now that NFL teams are allowed to have sportsbook partners, DraftKings may expand its reach. If it’s selected to also become the sportsbook partner of those same three teams, the company could alter those fantasy lounges to accommodate sports betting, or create new lounges altogether.
Even the teams already partnered one company or another will have decisions to make. For example, the Philadelphia Eagles, much like the Colts, have partnered with FanDuel in the past.
Even if the Eagles sign FanDuel again as a fantasy partner, the team might decide to shake hands with DraftKings for a sportsbook partnership too.
Since the door is open for multiple partners, teams could stitch some different deals together. Some franchises might end up sticking with one company across the board.
Signing a sportsbook partner is just one more source of income, so teams in legal states are likely to seek out those partnerships in spades.