Are Pro Sports Ready to Embrace Gambling?

Without betting, the NFL would not be far and away the most popular US sport. The NCAA tournament would not register the same mainstream impact that causes a major productivity drop for two workdays in mid-March. And most college football bowl games would fail to register on the public radar. Gambling is integral to the success of sports business, like it or not. Not necessarily big money, tens of thousands at stake gambling, but “casual gambling”.

Is it a coincidence that the explosion in sports revenue over the past decade has coincided with the rise of online gambling and fantasy sports? Gaming – of which fantasy and betting are each derivatives of – has a way of making sports interesting to those who would otherwise not care, which in many respects is good for business.

Implicitly, we realize the NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA don’t want any affiliation with gambling because of the corruption often associated with it. It opens the door for players and anyone associated with the leagues to get themselves into trouble, plus diminishes the on field focus. However, sports leagues must realize its now beyond control thanks to technology. People take sports betting for granted because online sports books are so accessible and easy to use. Further, sports betting is ever-present in Vegas casinos, so what’s so different about Delaware. Is the NFL concerned that Baltimore Raven players will drive up the turnpike to drop bets on their own games now that they have an outlet in Delaware?

Given the lack of regulation and lack of transparency with online betting, I’d argue that putting regulated, controlled sports books into Delaware and other states would help sports control the process more and potentially prevent it from ever getting out of control. As the theory goes, sometimes the hard you work to take something away the harder everyone works to break the rules. By embracing sports betting in controlled environments the leagues can impose control over the rules – a better situation than currently in place today. Plus, they would have a better sense of the amount of money in play, how many people are involved, and other critical data that can prove invaluable in many ways.

Besides online gambling, almost every major media outlet posts spreads for games and has its reporters and analysts pick winners. Why? Because fans want to see it, its good for business. Journalists even report on various exotic bets and numerous gambling related stories – not controversies or scandals, mind you, but outcomes and financial implications. The leagues can not choose to ignore this, then battle the states. To a point, it’s hypocritical.

Sports leagues should view this as an opportunity not a fight. Control the situation, dictate the terms and conditions of how this gets implemented, how many licenses are available, and what it takes to participate. View it as a chance to correct what is now an unruly situation that sports has mostly turned a blind eye to. Allowing regulated sports gambling will provide more insight and transparency to the leagues than the current anonymous, sometimes illegal online gambling. Plus, it moves the revenue to a more useful place.

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One Response

  1. Nice blog. Thanks for sharing this info.

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