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Report: NFL will let stadiums operate 'betting lounges,' still prohibiting actual gambling

Though several stadiums will be allowed to operate "betting lounges" this fall, actually placing bets at the stadiums will still be prohibited. (AP/Michael Conroy)

The NFL will allow some of its stadiums to have betting lounges starting this season, a significant step as sports gambling continues to grow in popularity across the country, according to Sports Business Daily.

There’s just one problem: The league won’t actually allow betting to take place on site.

Stadiums in states with legal sports gambling, NFL chief strategy and growth officer Chris Halpin told ESPN on Friday, will be able to offer betting lounges this fall. 

“We’re allowing betting lounges,” Halpin said, via ESPN. “Similar to daily fantasy lounges today, in an adult, discreet area, there will be a betting setup, but we’re not going to have betting windows.”

Per the report, teams will be allowed to designate an official sportsbook sponsor and display their signage in the stadium. That signage, however, can’t be in the lower bowl of stadiums and must include the word “sponsor” when referencing sportsbooks. The league had previously allowed casino sponsors, as long as it didn’t include sports betting.

Fourteen states in the U.S. currently offer legalized sports gambling, and several more are expected to begin operations this year. Seven states with NFL teams either have sportsbooks operating currently or are expected to start this year: Indiana, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Illinois and Tennessee.

Though the betting lounges won’t offer much of a change — as fans can’t actually place bets at betting windows at the stadium — it does mark a major step for the league. This test run of sorts could eventually lead to full-fledged betting at games in the coming years, should things go well both with these new lounges and with legislation throughout the country.

“We feel good about how [sports betting has] evolved state by state,” Halpin said, via ESPN. “We’re more and more excited about how sports betting is developing, and we’re now doing more in the space. We’re very positive about how it’s developing.”

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