Legalized sports betting is changing sports.
I don’t think that statement comes as a surprise to anyone. The ways in which it’s making an impact, however, aren’t always the most predictable.
The most recent surprise has to do with the relationship between NFL players and casinos. Until now, the league had prohibited players from accepting any form of casino comps (free items given out to encourage people to bet). But that won’t be the case anymore, according to former Browns tackle Joe Thomas:
NFL players will now be able to accept comps under $250 — aka the Las Vegas equivalent of about half a meal and a few sodas.
While $250 is basically chump change for an NFL player in Vegas, it’s still an indication of the impact that legalized sports betting is having on professional sports.
As recently as 2015, Tony Romo’s plan to host the first National Fantasy Football Convention in Vegas — an event designed for fans to interact with players and potentially gain some fantasy football insight — was canceled after players were informed that they could be fined or suspended for just taking part in an event that was sponsored by a casino.
Romo had to switch the location to Los Angeles for the next year, only to have it canceled again because of an issue the NFL had with EA Sports, the event’s lead sponsor.
After a two-year battle, Romo was eventually able to put on a successful event in Dallas in 2017. And now, just over a year after that battle ended, players will be able to accept complimentary gifts from casinos.