the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.
By TERRY LYONS, Editor-in-Chief, Digital Sports Desk
BOSTON – Let the games begin! Let the posturing begin! All bets down. With an easy edit of an infamous quote and all due respect to the great pundit Michael Ray Richardson, “The Ship be Sailin’ … and the Skies the Limit!”
First, the Hypocrisy:
Let’s start with the NFL statement issued within hours of today’s Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruling on The State of New Jersey v. NCAA which overturned the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which barred most US States from enacting sports gambling within the State. Here is the first exhibit of pretense:
“The NFL’s long-standing and unwavering commitment to protecting the integrity of our game remains absolute,” said a statement issued by the league today. “Congress has long recognized the potential harms posed by sports betting to the integrity of sporting contests and the public confidence in these events. Given that history, we intend to call on Congress again, this time to enact a core regulatory framework for legalized sports betting. We also will work closely with our clubs to ensure that any state efforts that move forward in the meantime protect our fans and the integrity of our game.”
A sports betting site, Boyds, recently estimated a record $158.5 million was wagered on the Super Bowl alone in 2018. The NFL, although a beneficiary through added fan engagement and eyeballs on the television broadcasts, didn’t pocket a cent of that hefty sum. That is about to change. The NFL’s head-in-the-sand approach is no longer acceptable.
- Hypocrisy you say?
While the NFL was perfectly keen to play a handful of games in London each year where every Tom, Dick and William Hill have kiosks to take wagers from everything from Horse Racing to Snooker or from the NBA to the very NFL game being played steps away from Twickenham to Wembley, the NFL and its Commissioner Roger Goodell are taking the high and mighty stance today, as though the SCOTUS unearthed some new-fangled vice or a gambling mechanism that former NFL Today pundit Jimmy The Greek had never thought of as he put forth his picks against-the-spread (ATS) decades ago. If not in London, the NFL was happy to play before record crowds in Mexico City where gambling is legal, similar to the UK.
Take all of that aside for a second, as gambling experts estimate some $93 billion was wagered on the NFL and $400 billion in the sports gambling universe last year alone, via illegal offshore sites for online wagering at the click of a handheld device, with much of it on the campuses of USA-based colleges and universities. Now that its going to be legalized in as many of 32 of the 49 states, aside from Nevada, the NFL stands with a different take and their major concern is potential harms?
- So what is a USA-based Sports League to do?
Let’s start with the outlook of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver:
“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court opens the door for states to pass laws legalizing sports betting,” he said. “We (meaning the NBA and its teams) remain in favor of a federal framework that would provide a uniform approach to sports gambling in states that choose to permit it, but we will remain active in ongoing discussions with state legislatures. Regardless of the particulars of any future sports betting law, the integrity of our game remains our highest priority.”
Of course Silver was on record, dating back to a November 13, 2014 Op-Ed piece in The New York Times, as well as a number of statements made at sports industry conferences near you, when he stated, in favor of regulation of the sports gambling industry, “Betting on professional sports is currently illegal in most of the United States, outside of Nevada. I believe we need a different approach.”
You got it, Adam, and, get your Chief Financial Officer and Chief Revenue Officer to finalize their budget projections.
- So? What’s Next?
There are now two things you can count on, resulting from today’s SCOTUS ruling:
1. The States Will Screw It Up: Some 32 states are currently jockeying for position to launch sports wagering in some shape or form. Each state will trust the judgment of its Treasury officer, some sports consultants and, maybe, just maybe seek input from the professional (or college) sports industry execs within their own state. With each entity having different goals and entirely different viewpoints, agendas, and budget needs, they will undoubtedly screw it up. Some of the States are well on their way to ineptitude in sports gaming, some to epic proportions. (For prior examples: See NYC OTB, warehouses of Scratch-off game cards with various team logo identification and weak efforts of NFL parlay betting in Delaware).
Remember. in November 2016 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts voted to legalize the use of marijuana for adults 21 years and older, but set aside the right for communities to regulate dispensaries, store hours and the like. As summer of 2018 approaches, there’s not a store in sight in my Massachusetts community. Weed? Gambling? The states will find a way to fumble it, delay it and then totally screw it up.
2. The Leagues Will Have Their Hands Out: We’ve already heard about a 1% “Integrity Fee” that legal experts scoff at, noting that Las Vegas has been operating quite nicely without any portion of their take going to the coffers of the league offices or to the big, bad NCAA. Now, guess what? The leagues have the upper hand as power brokers and lobbyists in Nevada and Washington DC are holding a two and a three against the dealer’s “Black Jack” in this game. The leagues have the deal. Forever.
The leagues control the stats and the real time, accurate stat feeds and the “tip of the iceberg” halftime and final score wagering is but a “mere bag of shells” when you compare it to the power of global “In-Game” transactional wagering where real time stat feeds, right from Courtside or the ballpark will pave the way for the leagues to grab their piece of the action or else!
The “or else” might be a future situation where only licensed partners, not much different from official licensees of merchandise or authorized official game broadcasters are provided with the “official” in-game stat feeds. In most situations like this, you follow the money, but in this situation, follow the stat feeds.
- Where will the Money come from? Your pocket.
I can see the gaming scenario play out much the way TicketMaster and some of the others charge fans for “Facility Fees” whereby a few bucks (even $1 or $2) come out of your pocket when you place a single wager or join the gambling community for a particular game.
Sure, place your $110 to win $100 but it will now cost you $111.00
Get ready sports fans, cozy up to your local saloon, order a beer and a Fireball, place your bet at the window or on your phone, watch your game, take a bad beat and don’t forget to tip your bartenders, wait staff, Adam Silver and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.