How Times Have Changed: NFL Goes All In With 3 Official Sports Betting Partners

Written By Joe Boozell on April 19, 2021
NFL Illinois sports betting partners

Once vehemently opposed to the legalization of sports betting, the NFL now has three official sports betting partners.

The NFL announced deals with Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel last week. The Shield is the last of the four major US professional sports leagues to take the plunge.

A lot has changed in the past decade. In 2012, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said this:

“It’s a very strongly held view in the NFL, it has been for decades, that the threat that gambling could occur in the NFL or fixing of games or that any outcome could be influenced by the outside could be very damaging to the NFL and very difficult to ever recover from.”

Fast-forward nine years, and the NFL has what it’s referring to as “tri-exclusive” partners.

Renie Anderson, the chief revenue officer and executive vice president of NFL partnerships, said:

“As the sports betting landscape has continued to evolve in the United States, we have been thoughtful with our strategy and are excited to announce three partners who share the NFL’s vision and goals. Working closely with Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel, we will provide fans new and different ways of interacting and engaging with the sport they love.”

Of Illinois’ six online sportsbooks, four now have official ties to the NFL.

PointsBet, the official partner of the Chicago Bears

While PointsBet is not a “tri-exclusive” NFL betting partner, it is the Bears’ official partner.

Caesars owns William Hill, so four Illinois online sportsbooks — DraftKings, FanDuel, William Hill and PointsBet — have official NFL ties.

BetRivers and Barstool are the other two IL mobile sportsbooks.

The sportsbooks will get official league data in the NFL deal. They will also have the right to integrate relevant sports betting content into NFL Media properties, such as and the NFL app.

DraftKings and FanDuel are the Illinois leaders in sports betting handle and revenue on a monthly basis. Here’s what they had to say about the deal.

First, DraftKings co-founder Jason Robins said:

“The way fans consume sports years from now will look drastically different, and it will be due in part to forward-thinking collaborations like our expanded relationship with the NFL today as an official sports betting and exclusive daily fantasy sports partner.

“We share the same vision as the NFL on fan engagement and believe this agreement will lead to new innovations that will ultimately enhance both the product on the field and on the screen.”

And FanDuel CEO Matt King:

“On Super Bowl Sunday we got a glimpse at how powerful the combination of the NFL’s excitement and our platform can be in delivering an enhanced fan experience. We are delighted to make that combination official by pairing America’s market share leading sportsbook with America’s favorite sports league.

“This partnership provides our shared customers with a new level of innovation and unmatched premium content directly within our platform ultimately enhancing every gameday.”

How popular is NFL betting in Illinois?

As we know, the NFL is the most popular league to bet on in the US. Illinois is consistent with that trend.

Illinoisans wagered $45.6 million on this year’s Super Bowl alone, generating over $1 million in tax revenue in a day.

In January, Illinois set a sports betting handle record with $581.6 million in bets. The NFL Playoffs took place throughout January.

In December, the last full month of the regular season, football betting made up $200.6 million of the state’s $491.7 million handle. That includes college football, though NFL was the main driver.

Basketball, by comparison, accounted for $143.5 million. No other sport cracked $30 million in December handle.

We could see IL handle flatline or dip in the coming months due to the end of March Madness and no more online registration.

It should rebound to January levels by football season, though. And the NFL is leaning into the demand.

Photo by Adam Hunger / AP
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Joe Boozell

Joe Boozell has also been a college sports writer for since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, and Growing up, Boozell squared off against both Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky in the Chicagoland basketball scene ... you can imagine how that went.

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