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NFL to allow betting lounges in stadiums, but no gambling



Starting this season, some NFL stadiums will be allowed to have betting lounges, and teams may accept sponsorships from sportsbook operators, as the league continues to get more comfortable with the expanding legal sports-gambling market in the U.S.

Retail sportsbooks are still prohibited at NFL stadiums, and there will not be any physical betting windows. However, stadiums in jurisdictions with legal sports gambling may offer betting lounges, showcasing mobile betting options, according to Chris Halpin, chief strategy and growth officer for the NFL.

“We’re allowing betting lounges,” Halpin told ESPN on Friday. “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.”

Under the new league policy, teams can designate official sportsbook sponsors and display signage in stadiums with some restrictions. The word “sponsor” must be included in reference to sportsbooks, and sports betting signage remains prohibited in the lower bowls of stadiums.

Previously, casino sponsorships were allowed, but references to sportsbooks were not. In January 2019, the NFL named Caesars Entertainment as the league’s first official casino sponsor, a deal that did not include sports betting. Teams have accepted casino sponsorships for years, but without sports betting.

Sports Business Daily first-reported the change in NFL policy.

Legal sportsbooks are operating in 14 states, including four that are home to NFL teams: Indiana, Nevada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Several more jurisdictions, including NFL hubs Colorado, the District of Columbia, Illinois and Tennessee, are expected to launch sports betting this year.

“We feel good about how it’s evolved state by state,” Halpin said of the growing American sports betting market. “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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Roger Federer showcases trick shots coming off knee surgery



Roger Federer put on a show for tennis fans via Twitter on Monday, proving the living legend hasn’t lost his touch as the ATP Tour has ground to a halt.

He posted a video showing him executing trick shots against a wall in the snow.

The video, which had more than 1.7 million views by Monday evening, also showed Federer moving nicely. He had knee surgery in February.

The surgery was going to keep him out of the French Open, which has since been postponed to September due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Federer, 38, announced last week that he and his wife, Mirka, would be donating $1.2 million to vulnerable families in his native Switzerland.

Currently ranked No. 4 in the world, Federer last played in the semifinals of the Australian Open.

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NFLPA medical director says he’s optimistic 2020 season will take place



NFL Players Association medical director Thom Mayer says he’s optimistic the 2020 season will take place but that the union and the NFL will know a lot more in late May or early June whether playing this season is viable.

Mayer discussed the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the NFL during an appearance on a podcast hosted by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Mayer said the NFLPA has created a COVID-19 brain trust that includes members from Harvard, Duke, Johns Hopkins, the CDC, the White House, the State Department and the office of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The union has consulted with that group twice and the first consultation led to the shut down of team facilities last week.

Mayer pointed out that every NFL team, with the exception of the Green Bay Packers, is located near a coronavirus hotspot; he believes it won’t be until late May or early June until those hot spots begin to open up. The timing means that organized team activities are unlikely this year and a return with training camp is the likeliest scenario. The NFLPA would only agree to the re-opening of facilities after consulting with its COVID-19 brain trust.

“So OTAs, probably not going to happen. As you know, the clubs are closed for now and will remain closed for a while. But I’m very optimistic. You know, you look at somebody like Drew Brees and [his wife] Brittany Brees gave five million dollars to New Orleans. And you may have heard Drew the other day say, “hang in there, hang tough.” And that’s what we have to do. We have to hang in there and hang tough — but we have to scenario plan for disasters in terms of the way we did it at 9/11,” he said.

Mayer pointed out that he was the command physician at the Pentagon on 9/11 so he has experience with disaster planning.

“So all that stuff on our side is going through and obviously we’ve encouraged the league to do their side and provide a safe environment, including how do we play games and what that might look like. So I’m optimistic by nature. We’re smart people in America and I think we can get this done,” he said.

Mayer wondered what games might look like if the league plays this season and if it would be similar to what “the NBA was thinking about, you could have games but not people in the stadium. How could you safely get people into the stadium, does that involve taking temperatures, other screening procedures.”

He said a return by training camp would likely be based on a model where the country was shut down for four months

“Now, if that happens, you’re really great. What will those training camps look like? You know, we’re encouraging scenario planning to say no non-essential people at training camp — including crowds, for example; there’s non-essential people from the club standpoint; then the fewer people available, that might be carriers of the virus.”

The United States currently has the most coronavirus cases in the world with nearly 162,000 cases. Close to 3,000 have died in the U.S. because of the virus.

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Eric Reid calls for probe, revote over post-ballot changes to CBA



Free agent safety Eric Reid wants the NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement invalidated over language added following ratification of the pact earlier this month.

He is calling for an investigation and a re-vote.

In a letter to the NFLPA on Monday, Reid’s lawyers said language posted on the players association’s website after passage of the agreement by a 1,019-959 vote on March 15 contains different language than the one players signed off on.

The new CBA is set to begin with the upcoming 2020 season and extend through 2030.

The letter from attorneys Ben Meiselas and Ray Genco highlight a difference in wording in the section about the league’s disability plan that affects hundreds, and potentially thousands, of ex-players who applied for Social Security disability insurance payments before Jan. 1, 2015. In the version the players received and approved, those offsets applied only to players who applied after Jan. 1, 2015.

In a series of tweets Monday, Reid, a vocal opponent of the agreement, provided screenshots of the CBA agreement that showed the language added after players approved the deal.

The NFL declined comment and the NFLPA told ESPN it is withholding comment until its attorneys have had a chance to review the pertinent information.

Meiselas told The Associated Press by phone Monday that the discrepancy was discovered when lawyers were “working with families of disabled players to guide them through the process.”

“We’ve been obviously critical of the CBA from the outset because it takes from disabled players. And so in advising them, we were looking at it and pointing out where they had issues and where they were going to be likely getting less money,” Meiselas said. “And then we saw it, and we go, ‘I don’t remember seeing this in Paragraph B.'”

Meiselas questioned why the language was added and why the NFL and players’ union weren’t transparent about the change.

“And so Eric’s letter demands the invalidation and an investigation and a re-vote because how do you stick in language that players didn’t know they were voting for?” Meiselas said. “It’s perplexing and concerning even if the changes were minor that there was no transparency and no explanation. But here, the changes are major and drastically and dramatically impact disability benefits to players.”

He said a re-vote seems like “the only logical answer.”

“When there’s a potential manipulation of the language to an agreement, what’s the alternative?” Meiselas said, adding, “We’re waiting on an explanation at this point.”

ESPN’s Dan Graziano and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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