There is not a more unlikely spot on the globe than Qaqortoq, Greenland to explore the hypocrisy of the National Football League in the group’s absolute scorched earth policy against legal sports betting in the United States. Yet in the two Pisiffik supermarkets in the very small town of about 3,000 in southwest Greenland you can find legalized sports betting and can bet on a multitude of events although NFL pre-season games were not on the many pages of an Oddset “program” which included Real Madrid playing Seville, Bayern Munich hosting Dortmund, along with English Premiership League, Dutch, Finnish, Swedish “football” matches between August 8 and 11.
The Qaqortoq sports book is easily found in the front of the supermarket along with various forms of scratch off lottery games.
The NFL doesn’t have any foothold in Greenland, which is a Denmark territory, but in Invergordon, Scotland, the National Football does have a significant interest. The NFL wants desperately to get the American brand of football situated in the United Kingdom with some sort of an arrangement in London to not only play games but use London as a platform to introduce the game on a large scale to not only England but the European continent after failing with ventures named the World League of American Football, NFL Europe and NFL Europa in London, in Scotland, in Spain, in Germany and in Amsterdam.
Until September 18, England and Scotland are joined together. On September 18, Scotland residents could vote to break away from “London” as the locals say in a referendum. But until September 18 and more than likely beyond, legalized sports betting is a way of life and at Ladbrokes in the middle of the small oil town of Invergordon, you can bet on sports.
This brings up an interesting question to Roger Goodell, the 31 NFL owners and the Green Bay Packers managing board. Why the push into London, England and the United Kingdom which allows betting on sports events and why the fierce opposition to betting on NFL games in New Jersey and Delaware?
There is some nonsense about compromising the integrity of the game but given the high number of players, front office officials and an owner arrested for various infractions along with a $92 million settlement that Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam reached with prosecutors for fraud at Haslam’s Flying Pilot J business, the integrity of the game canard seems frivolous.
It makes no sense. The NFL seeming has gambling rules for the United States and apparently will close the collective eyes of Goodell, the 31 owners and the Green Bay managing board in the United Kingdom and make believe the gambling rules for the US don’t exist.
American football owes a lot to bookmakers as point spreads made football popular. But Congress and President George Bush didn’t quite see it that way.
Sports leagues have blocked sports betting in the United States by convincing politicians outside of Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon of the evils of betting. In 1992, thanks to a federal law, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, allowed just four states to have sports books. New Jersey actually would have been the fifth state if the Legislature passed a measure allowing a sports book because there was gambling in Atlantic City. But New Jersey lawmakers declined.
The NFL sued Delaware after the state decided to have legalized betting on professional sports events In 2009, a three-judge panel in Philadelphia ruled against Delaware’s plan stating that the state was not allowed to conduct legalized pro sports betting because Delaware did not have the approval of Congress which regulated sports gambling. The NFL’s lawsuit came months after NFL owners decided to jump into bed with gaming establishments by establishing partnerships. The New York Giants signed agreements with the Connecticut and New Jersey lotteries, the New York Jets also had a marketing agreement with the New Jersey state run lottery.
In November 2011, Garden State residents approved a question that allowed Atlantic City casinos to start a sports book and the New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement plans to start issuing sports book licenses with the goal of getting started by January 9, 2013, about a month before the Super Bowl.
Virtually all of America’s sports leagues immediately sued to block what the people wanted in a referendum. The NFL was one of those sports organizations that decided that the will of the people should be silenced.
The NFL, led by New York Giants co-owner John Mara, warned New Jersey officials that the state would never get another Super Bowl in East Rutherford, New Jersey if legalized sports book in Atlantic City included NFL action.
The irony of that is the history of the Mara family in the NFL. In 1925, a (liquor) bootlegger and gambler named Tim Mara put up $500 to own an NFL team in New York.
The team nearly went bust and was only saved when Chicago Bears owner George Halas signed University of Illinois star Harold “Red” Grange right after the 1925 college season ended and together Halas and Grange arrange a tour which included New York for a series of games.
Mara’s team sold out the Polo Grounds and with the receipts from the day’s game, Mara was able to carry in to the 1926 season and beyond. The league’s protectionism of the Giants franchise began that day as the league denied Grange an opportunity to own a New York team that would have played at Yankee Stadium.
Grange did own a New York team in the very short lived American Football League in 1926.
Mara wasn’t the only shady character in the league back then. The Brooklyn Dodgers football franchise was owned by a well-known gambler and bootlegger named Bill Dwyer.
Number runners, gamblers, point spreads have all contributed to the making of today’s NFL. But it seems the league would rather wipe out that part of NFL’s past. Pittsburgh ended up with an NFL team back in 1933 because the most revered Art Rooney had a big summer’s day gambling at the Saratoga racetrack in upstate New York and used the winnings to buy an NFL team as the legend goes.
The NFL won in court, New Jersey voters were basically told, we don’t care what you want, we are the NFL (and big time sports including colleges) and our money and power is more important than you.
New Jersey still has plans to attempt to get legalized sports gambling up and going in Atlantic City despite a court ruling against the state. Delaware ended up with the same action that the state had briefly in the 1970s. Parlay betting on NFL games, Delaware was allowed to keep what it had prior to the 1992 sports betting legislation act.
You can bet on NFL action throughout the United Kingdom and some of the UK’s territories including in Hamilton, Bermuda. You can bet on the NFL in Naples, Italy and in Kotor, Montenegro legally. You just cannot do it in the United States except in Nevada and in Delaware although the Delaware action is extremely limited. You also might be able to bet on the NFL in Qaqortoq, Greenland if you venture there during the football season.
This article was republished with permission from the author, Evan Weiner. The original article was published by Sports Talk Florida and can be viewed by clicking here.