Ready…Set…Sports Gambling!

How we engage with sporting events and American culture in general is about to change. Yesterday, the Supreme Court struck down a federal law prohibiting sports gambling. States now have the right to allow it or ban it. Let the “fun” begin…

My experience with sports betting has been of the legal variety in Las Vegas. Before I worked in intercollegiate athletics, I learned the thrill of placing bets on NBA and MLB games. Watching the action play out when you have something riding on the game is exhilarating. It became plainly obvious why sports betting is such a lucrative business and why it has been scorned in mainstream society for so long.

I have experienced sports betting in Las Vegas.

But, the scorn is about to lessen. As one article I read stated, the perception and acceptance of sports betting is about to go from “being pot to being cigarettes—not quite embraced, but not so illicit.”

The sports betting development interests me in three ways.

First, I am intrigued to see how quickly it spreads. With this Supreme Court decision, states aren’t expected to waste any time. New Jersey is ready to legalize it right now. Other states are almost there. With big decisions that impact societal culture, the implementation period usually takes some time. That doesn’t look to be the case in this matter. It sounds like sports books and other sports gambling avenues are going to be popping up like weeds. How will citizens, politicians, and the gaming industry itself react to this surge that is about to occur?

Second, I wouldn’t be very happy if I was a Las Vegas bookie. I don’t think there is a single way to spin this as good news. A novelty form of gambling, loved by many, is about to become a form of entertainment/addiciton you can get by walking across the street. Who needs to go to the desert anymore? Taking the exclusivity of sports gambling from Las Vegas is the same as cloning Siegfried and Roy and putting them in every major city in America.

Third, what will this do to fantasy sports? People are attracted to fantasy because it makes them more invested in the game because something is at stake. With sports gambling soon to be legalized in numerous states, many people will undoubtedly lose their patience for fantasy. Why participate in a league that takes the whole season to determine a winner? Why engage in something where you don’t control the payouts? Why take the risk of handing your hard earned money over to your friend’s brother to hold? The regulated, professional, instant reality of sports betting will take droves away from fantasy.

This development is big. Hold on because things are about to move very fast. It won’t be long until placing a bet on a game is as common as buying a lottery ticket. Don’t Blink.

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