August 11, 2022

Is Overtime Illegal in the NFL?

In what’s sure to be a landmark case in London, a jury is being asked to decide whether or not poker is a game of skill or chance.  The case stems from the arrest of a club owner accused of illegaly hosting poker games.

Under current British law, games of chance are prohibited in a bar (unless licensed.)

So what does this have to do with the NFL?

The prosecutor’s main argument is that if poker is a game of skill it’s legal.  If it’s a game of chance, it’s illegal.  If it’s a game of skill with elements of chance (the best definition in my opinion), then that element of chance still makes it illegal.

But what about American football?  In the NFL (and NFL Europe) tied games are settled by a sudden death overtime.  Sudden death is where the first team to score wins.  Can you see where I’m going with this? 

Since a coin flip is used to determine which team will get the ball first, (and statistically, the team who usually wins) that makes football (at least in overtime) a game of skill with an element of chance.  By the prosecutor’s definition, football is illegal outside of a licensed casino. 

Now, one could argue that since nothing is wagered it’s not gambling – but there are many wagers.  Player salaries are tied to wins (and post season advancement), players recieve rings for winning, trophys, endorsements, etc.

It’ll be interesting to see how this case plays out, and what (if any) implications arise.

About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is an SEO from Detroit. By day he works as a manager of SEO & Analytics at SapientNitro where his team performs SEO for Fortune500 clients. By night he's either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world with his own websites - which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. The views expressed here have not been paid for and belong only to Ryan, not any of his employers or clients. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones, add him on Google+ or visit his personal website: www.RyanMJones.com