Sports betting, fantasy part of AFL's future

October 25, 2017 06:22 PM

ALBANY - When Arena Football returns to Albany next spring, many fans will be watching the line of scrimmage. Others might be going crazy over a goal line stand. Others, however, might be focused on a different kind of line: the betting line.

When the quarterback is calling an audible, Arena Football fans at the Times Union Center in the future, might be calling in bets.

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"The plan of the future will be that people can be on their phones, sitting in the arena and they'll be able to place a bet on whether it's going to be a pass play or a run play," said Bob Belber, General Manager of the Times Union Center.

Arena Football League Commissioner Scott Butera says the league already has an arrangement with the William Hill Sports Book to handle football wagering. He says it's part of a new vision, a different dynamic that incorporates innovative technology with the changing way fans like to watch their football.

"As we looked at the way people were consuming sports, we sort of thought, we have a real opportunity here to take that traditional sport and really marry it with what's going on in terms of how people are enjoying sports these days," Butera said.

It was that kind of thinking that sold Daniel Nolan on the idea of buying in to the new Arena Football concept, literally. As one of the local owners of the Albany franchise, his purchase might be seen as the ultimate gamble.

"I'm not the expert on sports betting, but I can tell you there's a lot of buzz in the league about fantasy betting and sports betting," Nolan says, "It seems this is a sport that's custom made. It's faster paced. We're talking about putting cameras in helmets."

According to football legend, and team co-owner Ron Jaworski, the safest bet of all is that enthusiasm will win out.

"The good times are back in Albany as the sports signature footprint in this community grows," Jaworski cheers, 

As of right now, sports betting is illegal in New York State. Butera says he's hoping for a favorable ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court later this year where the nine justices will be deciding if the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) will be upheld.

That's the federal law, backed by professional sports leagues and the NCAA, that allows sports betting in four states (Nevada, Oregon, Delaware, and Montana).

The Trump Administration, through its solicitor general's office, filed a brief on Wednesday with the U.S. Supreme Court, supporting PASPA.

The state of New Jersey is currently challenging the legality of PASPA.

If the Supreme Court decides to lift the federal prohibition against sports betting, licensed casinos in New York State, including Rivers Casino in Schenectady, would be able to accept sports bets.


Dan Levy

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