R.I.P. AAF: League dictator seeks to take his football gambling app and go home

Wednesday, 03 April 2019 12:53 EST

RIP AAFWell, that stage of Johnny Manziel’s comeback attempt was short: Exactly 10 days passed between from Manziel’s signing with the Memphis Express to the decision by bailer-out/de facto league dictator Tom Dundon decided to take his AAF gambling app and go home.

Dundon, the Carolina Hurricanes owner, famously infused the Alliance of American Football with $250 million in February after just two weeks of the regular season. (In reality, as Deadspin reported yesterday in what amounts to an obituary for the AAF, Dundon paid league expenses week-to-week, short-shrifted some league employees and vendors, ending up spending “only” $70 million on the venture doomed to failure.)

Quickly realizing the AAF was hemorrhaging money, Dundon appeared to take inspiration from former success stories like the USFL and CFL USA, simply accelerating a hastily-crafted three-year plan. NFLbets is almost surprised Dundon didn’t simply start creating new teams to collect expansion fees from fools with too much money. Dundon declared that the AAF had to become a feeder league for the NFL immediately or else.

The NFL Players Association quickly reacted to this lack of a plan in the only rational way they could, i.e. by conveying the simple nothingness that could be achieved with no such infrastructure for an NFL feeder league in place.

Now that the AAF is little more than a stiffening corpse and memories fading fast, it is rapidly becoming obvious that Dundon’s investment of time and money into the league was all about development of the AAF gambling app, a joint venture of unspecified terms with MGM Resorts International.

The only official AAF app that’s currently available is actually pretty freakin’ neat. The “Alliance” app allows (or allowed) the user to watch plays in real-time on a video game-looking field on which helmets representing players act out the play. In-game competitions feature/d a pick-the-next-play game. Some nice stat-tracking enhances/ed the whole experience.

No options for actual, you know, *football betting*, exist in the current app, however.

Reportage by SI.com on the league’s closure – which oddly sees a future in which the league could survive this apparent death – notes that “MGM Resorts International entered into a contract with AAF to develop sports betting technologies. The contract would indicate whether MGM Resorts owns the intellectual property and licenses it to AAF, or vice-versa. If MGM Resorts owns the related intellectual property, Dundon might not own the AAF app or its data.”

Clearly big plans are/were afoot to expand the app from its decent start, and both parties in the deal are clearly aware that legalized sports betting is just about to blow up in the United States. New York and Arkansas are becoming the ninth and tenth states to legalize sports betting, while another 25 appear to be legislatively heading in the direction of legalization by 2025.

So even if MGM and Dundon can’t come to an agreement on the gambling app software (which seems somewhat strange, given Dundon’s deep in with the NHL and its owners), here’s to thinking the parties will be heading to court – hopefully to win a bit more than $3.

On the other hand, killing a professional football league just might make Dunston POTUS someday…