Sports Betting Impact? You Can Bet On It
One of the least reported stories from the sports world in 2018 was the legalization of sports gambling in the United States by its Supreme Court.
The 6-3 ruling struck down a 1992 federal law that had prohibited most states from authorizing sports betting. (Previously only Nevada was allowed sports wagering.) The NCAA, NFL and NBA had backed the federal prohibition. But with the SCOTUS decision, up to 20 U.S.states have either opened or are planning open legal sports wagering operations.
The surfacing of billions of dollars previously wagered illegally will produce a significant change to the sports industry. While leagues are not entitled to share in the handle from wagering, they are able to sign lucrative deals with casinos, hotels and other operations for promotional purposes.
For sports that have depended on TV/ radio/ digital rights— along with expansion fees— for their income, the arrival of revenues from the sports wagering industry will prove an added sense of security apart from the networks.
As I wrote in this October 29, 2018 column, the NHL wasted no time in getting in on the chips. https://goo.gl/PjowQp
“Last year’s debut of the Vegas Golden Knights was the thin edge of the wedge, with active betting onsite during games as the Knights surprised everyone with a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals. (The NFL Raiders move to Vegas in 2020.)
The game changer was the U.S. Supreme Court decision early this year, striking down in the Professional And Amateur Sports Protection Act which prohibited legal gambling anywhere but Nevada. Suddenly, any state that wanted into the betting business— and the profits— was permitted to create laws to allow for betting houses and online sites.
(In Canada, there has been legalized betting on sports through provincial lottery corporations. Offshore betting sites have also been legal and easily available for years.)
Monday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. The league is going with MGM Resorts as the league’s first official betting partner.
The integrity of the sport had also been the reason leagues prohibited gambling. But Bettman says, “I don’t worry about the integrity of our players. I think, though, if you’re going to allocate for yourself to run a business on our intellectual property and the performance of our athletes and the platform that we put on for our games, we’re entitled to be involved in that.”
Expect that advertising will soon appear on jerseys as the NHL and its sister leagues embrace the possibilities. In partnership with the massive global betting interests, leagues believe they can better monitor the integrity of their product, getting a little “vig” for allowing them to be used for gambling purposes.
(While they say they’ll share insider information with MGM, Bettman said that any injury insider news will remain just that— inside the NHL.)
It would appear that everything is in play in any of the 18 states that have so far taken advantage of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize sports wagering. Just one example of the increasing footprint is the New Jersey Devils adding a William Hill betting lounge at the Prudential Arena.
While there won’t be windows for betting in this lounge it will contain all the other trappings of a sports book: TV monitors, tote boards, betting information, drinks. Fans can make bets on the game, however, by using wagering apps on their phones.
The liberalization of wagering rules coincides with the industry providing a whole new range of product options. A cursory examination of websites reveals the traditional bets, teasers, parlays and other ways to have a stake in the game. In addition, the explosion in software capability now allows the bettor to keep putting wagers on a live game with rolling odds even as it’s happening.
There is also an active market in trading open wagers. Bettors can find a market for an open ticket, allowing them to leverage their exposure by accepting a small profit or loss on a ticket before it’s decided.
The latest wrinkle is the creation of stock markets for sports teams. Instead of wagering on games, bettors can take a position on the success or failure of their “stock”. Values are established at the start of the season. Depending on the progress or regression of that team, bettors can profit or lose during the season. Trading can continue at any point during games or between contests.
So with governments desperate for revenues, there will be more opportunities than ever to place a wager on your favourite team. You can bet on it.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the publisher of the website Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). He’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author whose new book Cap In Hand: How Salary Caps Are Killing Pro Sports And Why The Free Market Could Save Them is now available.