Bets on Jets-Dolphins in U.K. rivaled amount on Premier League matches

ByDavid Purdum ESPN logo
Sunday, October 4, 2015

Legal betting on the NFL continues to grow in the United Kingdom, where the league is planning to put a franchise by 2022.

More money was bet on the New York Jets-Miami Dolphins game at U.K. sportsbook Ladbrokes than any previous NFL game played at Wembley Stadium in London, according to Ladbrokes spokesman Alex Donohue. The NFL has been playing games in London since 2007.

Donohue said Jets-Dolphins attracted 10 times more money than the average NFL game played in the United States. Donohue would not provide the total amount bet on the Jets-Dolphins game, but said it rivaled the amount bet on Sunday's Premier League matches.

William Hill spokesman Joe Crilly said his sportsbook had taken 75 percent more money on Jets-Dolphins than on any of the other games on Sunday's schedule. Crilly estimated 200,000 was bet on Jets-Dolphins.

The growing legal NFL betting market in the U.K. is not deterring the league's plans to put a franchise there. NFL executive vice president for international Mark Waller told Wednesday that 2022 is a realistic timeframe for a franchise to be placed in London, where sports betting has been legal for decades.William Hill is offering 25-1 odds of an NFL franchise being placed in London by the end of 2020.

At the same time, the NFL continues to publicly oppose legalized sports betting in the United States. Commissioner Roger Goodell, in 2012 deposition testimony, downplayed the significance of the NFL playing games in a country with legal sports betting, while also shunning Las Vegas, where sports betting is also legal.

When asked whether he believes playing a game in a country that permits sports wagering is harmful to the NFL's reputation, Goodell said he didn't think U.S. citizens were aware of U.K. laws.

"Well, we're playing in their country, we're coming to them," Goodell said in testimony during the New Jersey sports betting case. "And we're only there for a short period of time; we're there for only two or three days. It's not what we choose, it's not what we believe is in the best interest of sports, but we don't dictate the rules or the laws."

The American Gaming Association issued a release Saturday applauding the NFL's willingness to play games in a location with legal sports betting.

"We applaud the NFL's willingness to once again host games in a city where betting on sports is a national pastime and a mainstream form of entertainment," Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the AGA, said in the release. "While sports fans across the United States are also betting on these games -- largely illegally because of an outdated and failing law -- millions of dollars will be bet in London on the NFL games in a legal, regulated and safe manner."