A former NFL attorney details his work on the league’s sports betting deals

Following a 2018 US Supreme Court ruling that struck down a federal ban on sports betting was unconstitutionalThe NFL has begun investigating commercial relationships in the gambling space.

NFL attorney Doug Mishkin, who previously served as a senior vice president at Metric Gaming, said his experience has positioned him well to play a lead legal role in supporting the league’s subsequent transactions in that domain.

“I was hoping that the expertise I gained working in Las Vegas at Metric Gaming would be an important asset if, and when, things opened up” in the sports betting space, said Mishkin, who joined the NFL in 2016. “That’s for sure happened faster than I expected.”

Mishkin recently spoke with Legal Dive after law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner announced that he joined the firm as a partner in its global sports and entertainment group.

First arrangements

Mishkin said he is fulfilled to be a part of the paradigm shift in the NFL, which as a league he didn’t hug commercial activities in sports betting before the repeal of the Law on the Protection of Professional and Amateur Sports (ZZPUS).

As a senior advisor, Mishkin had a role in managing the NFL’s first-ever casino sponsorship, daily fantasy sports sponsorship, official sports betting data and live video distribution deals, among other deals.

For example, in early 2019, the NFL announced this Caesars Entertainment was chosen as its own the first official casino sponsor league.

Because gaming takes place in a highly regulated space, Mishkin said, there were many more issues the league had to consider when partnering with sports gambling entities compared to its more traditional sponsors. Moreover, the league itself has many policies that regulate commercial activities in the space.

In that regard, Mishkin said, it was important for the NFL to ensure that its gambling sponsors’ promotional efforts were responsible in nature and never targeted youth.

Creation policies

In addition to deals he worked on, such as the Caesars sponsorship, Mishkin helped shape the NFL’s post-PASPA gambling policy, which contained provisions the league was required to include in its gambling-related contracts.

Head shot of Doug Mishkin, partner at Bryan Cave

Doug Mishkin

Courtesy of Bryan Cave

Generally speaking, he said, sports leagues could consider policies that help meet fans interested in betting where they are, rather than “pushing” content and activities related to sports betting on those who might not want it.

“You want to think of your fans first and respect those fans who may not be interested in seeing sports betting as part of their experience, while also providing experiences and opportunities for those fans who are interested in it,” Mishkin said.

Mishkin’s time with the NFL also included supporting the government affairs team in sports betting advocacy and legislative drafting initiatives he undertook at the state level.

In addition, he advised and counseled NFL teams on their partnerships in new areas, including sports betting market access agreements.

I join Bryan Cave

Mishkin said he’s watched closely as many states across the country have legalized sports betting over the past few years, and it got him thinking about a potential future outside of in-house work for the NFL.

“With that growth and my experience, it felt like I was in a position to provide value to a number of other companies in the space, whether it was other leagues, sports teams or operators,” he said.

So when Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner presented him with the opportunity to join the firm to do just that, he said it was compelling and signed on to become a New York-based partner.

The company’s existing professional sports team clients include 31 in the NHL, as well as teams in the MLB, NBA, NFL and MLS. In addition, the company represents more than 20 international football clubs.

Company executives said they were thrilled to have Mishkin join Bryan Cave.

“His unique and broad experience with the NFL and in advising all of its teams, along with his specialized legal experience in gaming, sports betting and other emerging categories, will provide tremendous value to our clients in the sports and entertainment industry,” said Ryan Davis , co-chairman of Sports & Entertainment Group.

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