The NFL will allow teams to accept advertisements for casinos and other state-licensed gambling-related establishments during the next two seasons.
Those ads can appear only in game programs, on local radio broadcasts and in the upper bowl and inner concourses of stadiums.
The league told the 32 clubs on Thursday that the change in policy will allow such advertising on a limited basis from casinos in their markets. After the subject was discussed at last month's owners meetings, the league reviewed how other sports handle casino advertising, did fan research, analyzed likely impact of recent gambling-related legislative developments and surveyed all 32 franchises.
"We remain steadfast in our opposition to the proliferation of gambling on NFL games," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. "There is a distinction between accepting advertising in a limited fashion and gambling on the outcome of our games."
No employees of the NFL and its teams, including players and coaches, can endorse or appear in any advertisements for any form of gambling.
Previously, teams have been permitted to accept advertising for horse and dog racing tracks, for municipal lotteries and off-track betting organizations, provided they offer no betting schemes based on actual sporting events; to enter into sponsorship agreements with municipal lotteries, provided the lottery offers no games based on actual sporting events; and to accept advertising for the city of Las Vegas, provided such advertisements contain no references to or depictions of gambling or casinos.
Under Thursday's change, any entity being advertised can't have a sports book or accept or promote gambling of actual sporting events other than horse or dog racing. In the case of facilities with multiple locations, some of which include a sports book or otherwise accept or promote gambling on actual sporting events, the advertisements "must clearly and prominently advertise the locations that do not have a sports book and do not otherwise accept or promote gambling on actual sporting events. No reference to any of the locations that do have them is permitted.
All advertisements must include a responsible gambling message. The advertisers must agree to contribute funds to the league's gambling education and other related programs.
No naming rights or programming sponsorships can be sold to casinos or gambling-related entities.