Thursday, October 14, 2004

CFL is truly a punters game now!

(Def) punter
1. to lay a bet against the bank as in roulette.
2. Chiefly British slang: to gamble

The CFL has blazed a bit of a trail in North American professional sport with the announcement on Tuesday, that it will ally itself with a well known British based on line sports book and Casino.

Brent Scrimshaw the league’s senior vice president of marketing and partnerships was suitably enthusiastic with the announcement that the CFL and Bowmans will team up for two years, offering CFL contests on line for gamblers to take a chance on.

CFL fans will be seeing Bowman’s signage on the sidelines as soon as the divisional playoffs in November. They will also offer a “free” on line promotional parlay contest which fans can take part in without having to part with any cash. Of course, the regular book will be available as well, for those die hard fans that wish to put their money where their picks are.

The idea of a professional league actively engaging in bookmaking has been a no go area for years. All of the other major North American sports leagues have a hands off; keep your distance relationship with gambling. In effect providing a collective nod and a wink.

Over the last number of years, NFL and American college football, as well as the NBA and NHL, have benefited greatly from the unsanctioned bookmaking. The below the radar gambling has created a surge of interest in the various sports. Check any office on a Friday afternoon and you’ll find somebody with the NFL schedule collecting 10 or 20 bucks, for a winner takes all pool. Not to be left out, provincial governments across Canada have jumped on the sports wagering bandwagon offering up a wide variety of games for play. Gambling has been an unofficial part of sports for a very long time. The CFL it seems is just jumping ahead of the professional curve a little bit, benefiting (it hopes) from any interest in its product.

The one worry of any sport league is the potential for skulduggery in the play of the game as it involves point spreads or kicks made or missed. The CFL claims to have built in “firewalls” into the Bowmans program to make that suggestion of less than honest activity a non starter. With betting limits for fans and a strict no participation policy for its players, the league is of the opinion that the relationship with Bowmans will be of benefit to the league as a whole and something fun for the fan.

If they find that too many problems crop up then they will end the agreement and chalk it up to an idea that had merit but didn’t work out. However, the league believes that this project will only be a positive step for a league that is always looking for new revenues streams, better advancement of its product and a way to connect with its fans.

One thing is certain; the last few years have seen the CFL make some interesting moves all designed to help grow its game. People are talking about CFL football again, creating a buzz about a league many feared was on its last legs. Judging by the successful turn around at the gate this year across the league, betting against the CFL succeeding in their latest project might not be a wager you would want to take.

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