The National Football League (NFL) has hired its first executive dedicated to executing its sports betting strategy, appointing David Highhill as Vice President and General Manager of Sports Betting, according to the Sports Business Journal.
Highhill has been working for the NFL for the past 10 years, previously holding the positions of Vice President of Strategy and Analytics, as well as Director of Consumer Products Strategy and Director of Corporate Development.
Reporting to Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer, Renie Anderson, Highhill will be joined in the sports betting unit by former Senior Director of Corporate Strategy, Jarrad Lavoie.
ESPN notes that Highhill will be responsible for protecting the NFL’s integrity from gambling-related harm, building the league’s brand and reputation, increasing the league’s data and intellectual property value, and improving fan engagement.
Commenting on his new role, Highhill said: “It’s a growing market, it’s grown a lot in the last three or four seasons. What’s ahead is the exciting part of the opportunity.”
Highhill’s appointment is just one part of the NFL’s movement into the sports betting space since the repeal of PASPA in 2018.
Last season, sports betting ads were aired during NFL games for the first time. The league has also formed partnerships with multiple sportsbooks and has sold its official data to operators.
Yet, Highhill doesn’t believe the league or teams will operate a sportsbook directly, stating to ESPN: “We’re going to focus on serving fans and the games rather than becoming a sportsbook.”
The NFL is also aware that not every fan wants to place a wager, and that it’s important to protect fans from gambling harm.
Highhill concluded: “We know there is a profile of fans that are most interested and a profile of fans that are less interested. So serving fans where they are is very important and that goes right alongside with supporting our relationship with the National Council on Problem Gambling and insuring that we take a leadership position on problem gambling.”