Sports Gambling Quickly Becomes Part Of The Game
• Still not legal in California, sports gambling has become mainstream almost everywhere else.
If you tuned into last Sunday’s Super Bowl and you have been a regular viewer of television sporting events, you may have noticed something a little different about the coverage of the biggest game in American sports.
Fox, the game’s exclusive broadcaster, had no hesitation promoting online sports gambling. The game’s spread and total were shown constantly in the pregame, and Fanduel and DraftKings, two major online wagering corporations, spent big on commercials during the big game.
Up until just a few years ago, traditional media outlets made sure to steer clear of sports gambling. Announcers were discouraged from talking about gambling fundamentals, such as points spreads and totals in games. It was taboo for commentators to even mention sports gambling.
In addition, sports leagues gravely feared the threat that sports gambling posed. The NBA was most publicly affected after a referee spent time in prison due to involvement in a sports gambling scheme in the early 2000s. In 2012, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that sports gambling was the number one threat to the integrity of football. Then-MLB Commissioner Bud Selig called sports gambling “evil.”
But not too long later, sentiments in the media and world of sports began to change regarding sports gambling. In 2014, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wrote an op-ed calling for the legalization of sports gambling.
Soon after, new MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred echoed a similar message. In 2016, both the NFL and NHL announced future plans for teams in Las Vegas, a huge step towards accepting the industry of gambling.
But in 2018, everything changed when the Supreme Court of the United States delivered a ruling that opened the door for online wagering to become legal across the country. Soon enough, online sports gambling became legal in many states. Today, online sports wagering is legal in 21 states.
Following the legalization of online wagering in many states, media networks and sports leagues got knee-deep in the business. Fox opened its own online sportsbook, FOX Bet, in early 2021. ESPN now has a Las Vegas-based TV show dedicated completely to sports gambling.
Today, the NBA, NHL, and MLB all have “official gaming partners” that spend tens of millions of dollars to be those leagues’ exclusive gambling partners.
Sportsbooks are even beginning to open up at sports venues. Wrigley Field and State Farm Stadium (host of Super Bowl LVII) among others have on-site sportsbooks for sports gambling.
And Americans are all in on the sports gambling craze. More than 50 million Americans are estimated to have gambled more than $16 billion on last Sunday’s Super Bowl.
In an ironic twist, the NFL will play Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas next year, directly across the street from the very sportsbooks the league’s commissioner dubbed the greatest threat to the sport just a decade ago. Online gambling has taken the sports world by storm, and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.