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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

NFL: SPORTS BET HYPOCRITES

By Marc Lawrence, PlaybookSports.com — t’s safe to say Arnie Wexler, the former executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, does not approve of the NFL holding the Super Bowl in Las Vegas. “Those bastards,” said Wexler, who recalled the NFL and other pro sports leagues fighting the effort to legalize sports betting in New Jersey in the 1990s. In fact, in 2012, the NFL challenged a sports betting statute in New Jersey. According to the New York Times, a lawyer for the NFL said in a deposition that the league opposed sports gambling because it would “negatively impact our long-term relationship with our fans, negatively impact the perception of our sport across the country.” Less than a decade later, the league signed partnerships with gambling companies and casinos. On Monday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told the media that the “integrity of our game is critical’’ as legalized gambling spreads. “It’s our No. 1 objective,’’ he said. Talk about speaking out of both sides of your mouth. Wexler said last Sunday, he held a meeting in Florida for recovering gamblers. A 19-year-old sports bettor and one in his early 20s were there. “We’re killing the youth of America,” Wexler said, “and nobody cares.” That is not true, says the NFL. “Using our platform to promote responsible gambling is also a key focus, and we are proud of the leadership position we have taken in this area across the sports industry,” the league said in a statement provided to USA TODAY Sports. In fact, the NFL has touted its “responsible betting initiative.’’ The three major components cited by the league are its partnership with the NCPG, developing its own campaign that includes a commercial featuring Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner, and messaging that the NCPG says has driven almost one million unique visitors to responsibleplay.org. What rubbish. Sticking Kurt Warner’s face in front of an audience during NFL games that are subjected to countless ads for sportsbooks is akin to watching ads for condoms during a pornfest. The league also has capped sports gambling advertisements to three for the Super Bowl – one before kickoff and two in-game. So, that’s at least $21M the NFL will rake in during the Super Bowl for hyping sports books. It’s pure hogwash, and Goodell knows it.

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