Breach refers to NFL team promoting casino’s affiliated sports betting site.
National Football League (NFL) franchise the New York Jets have reportedly signed a landmark casino sponsorship deal with Israel-based gambling company 888 Holdings.
However, the agreement has already caused controversy amid suggestions that advertising of the partnership contravenes league regulations.
New NFL rules agreed in August relaxed a previous ban on bookmaker-related sponsorship, allowing teams to advertise directly with casinos. However, any casino involved in such an arrangement will still be prohibited from directly advertising its associated sportsbook in its partnership with an NFL team.
The regulation, which excludes fantasy websites, exists to restrict the spread of sports gambling among younger fans.
According to a report from US daily newspaper the New York Post, it is this aspect of the Jets’ agreement with 888 Holdings that has led to debate, with 888 operating both a sports betting site as well as an online casino.
Bright orange banners which adorn the outside of the team’s MetLife Stadium are displaying the branding of 888.com – the sports betting site associated with the casino, going against regulations which prevent the direct promotion of sports gambling sites.
The New York Post says the Jets have defended their position, claiming that they have not violated the rules because the betting site’s official name – 888sport – does not appear on the branding. The 888.com website – it notes – also allows users to access poker and online casino games.
However, the 888.com site at the centre of the dispute also clearly features betting opportunities; the homepage features a clickable image link of a football player, with the link directing the customer to available match bets.
Neither the Jets nor 888 Holdings chose to comment when contacted by the US newspaper.
The argument comes five months after the United States’ Supreme Court voted in favour of legalising sports betting in the country, which – in turn – led to the NFL’s casino sponsorship rule change.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) became the first US major sports league to take advantage of the federal law change, agreeing a US$25 million multi-year partnership with hospitality and entertainment giant MGM Resorts International.
The deal with the sports betting operator has seen MGM Resorts become the official gaming partner of the NBA and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).
Earlier in October, NFL teams the Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys both took advantage of the relaxation on the regulations, agreeing deals with Horseshoe Casino Baltimore and WinStar World Casino, respectively.