Wide Right

The National Football League has long had a tortured relationship with Las Vegas. For years, it’s tried to pretend the city—home to some of the world’s best-known casinos and the only legal straight-up sports wagering in the U.S.—doesn’t exist. Unlike the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball, the NFL has prohibited advertising by casinos.

That might soon change. The league is deliberating an amendment to its rulebook that would allow individual teams to accept casino ads. This might have been a step in the right direction, if not for a catch: The proposal would forbid teams from doing business with casinos that also operate sportsbooks—meaning just about any Vegas casino you can name is off-limits.

It seems the league—which knows full well that Nevada is the only state in the union that can legally house a sportsbook—isn’t going to stop its cold war against Las Vegas even as it opens its arms to casino money.

That fits right in with the NFL’s decades of anti-Vegas hypocrisy. The league directly benefits from sports betting, both legal and illegal. Betting increases interest in the game, which drives television ratings, which means bigger network contracts for the league.

And that’s to say nothing of fantasy football, which—as the NFL suits conveniently ignore—is essentially a billion-dollar illegal gambling ring.