It has been over a year since the landmark ruling from the Supreme Court of the United States which effectively placed the question of the legality of sports betting in the hands of state legislatures.
Since that time, we have seen a flurry of activity. Both online and land-based sportsbooks have hit the market in states that are ahead of the curve. Many more will follow as additional states join the party.
The perception of sports betting is changing as well. What was once a somewhat taboo topic is now discussed openly in many different mediums. Sports betting is going mainstream. Just like the flood of sportsbooks, the wave of momentum will only continue to grow.
How Far We Have Come
It wasn’t that long ago that references to sports betting on the air during games and events were done with a wink and a nod. There was the occasional outlier, such as The NFL Today on CBS many moons ago, but sports betting was mainly a taboo topic on TV.
In a nutshell, the leagues and broadcast networks didn’t want to be associated with a practice that was considered illegal outside the state of Nevada. That doesn’t mean underground sports betting wasn’t huge – it was – but the powers that be wanted to keep their distance.
Some established broadcasters would deftly reference things like the point spread while calling the games. For instance, Al Michaels practically made a cottage industry of working gambling references into his game calls without ever actually saying the words.
All that has changed. The SCOTUS ruling not only opened up the floodgates for legal participation in sports betting, but it also opened up a whole lot of other doors.
Media Industry Climbs on Board
Last month, we took a detailed look at how the relationship between television and sports betting continues to grow. Sports betting programming is all over the airwaves these days. Networks such as Fox and ESPN are already on board with shows dedicated to gambling, and we can expect to see even more in the future.
“The sports betting environment has changed and interest is increasing at unprecedented levels,” explained ESPN executive VP Norby Williamson. “ESPN is going to have a strong and vibrant presence across our platforms, and the launch of Daily Wager is the next step in what has already been underway for some time.”
As football season approaches, it’s probably not a reach to say that we will see even more references to sports betting on mainstream pregame shows. Similar to the Daily Fantasy Sports war of a few years back between FanDuel and DraftKings, we’ll likely also see a rise in advertisements geared towards attracting new users to various online platforms.
For those interested in sports betting, this is both good news and bad news. On the positive front, more attention to the industry will directly correlate to additional innovation and promotions aimed at attracting users and keeping them on board. On the downside, an overwhelming influx of ads and references could lead to some backlash against the industry just as we saw with the FanDuel-DraftKings wars.
We’ll have to wait and see what the future holds, but you can rest assured that the marriage of sports betting and television won’t be breaking up anytime soon.
Leagues, Teams and Venues Soften Their Stances
Before too long, there may be sportsbooks located inside arenas and stadiums. That’s looking like it may become a reality in places such as Illinois, New York, and the Nation’s Capital in the not too distant future. You can read all about those developments here.
Quite simply, sports betting is already big business, and it is poised to become absolutely massive as it’s legalized in additional states. The various leagues and teams want a piece of the pie, and the interest will only continue to grow.
The NBA and MLB seem to be ahead of the curve and ready to welcome the opportunities with open arms. The NFL continues to hold gambling at arm’s length, but even that stance is beginning to soften.
Earlier this year, the league announced that Caesars Entertainment will be the Official Casino Partner of the NFL. In the release announcing the deal, Renie Anderson, SVP of NFL Partnerships, Sponsorship and Consumer Products, had this to say:
“We couldn’t be more excited to work with one of the world’s largest gaming and entertainment companies. Combining the NFL with Caesars’ expertise in world class entertainment will provide our fans unique experiences both here in the United States and abroad.”
We may still be a good way from officially branded betting websites and apps from the various leagues and teams, but it sure seems like we’re a lot closer to that than ever before.
What Might Be on the Horizon
Back in January, NBC Sports Washington made headlines with its unique approach to the broadcast of a Wizards regular season game. An alternative feed of the game versus the Milwaukee Bucks was provided to focus specifically on the betting aspect of the event.
In addition to a focus on stats and things important to sports bettors, the stream featured a ‘predict-it’ contest. Viewers were posed with a number of questions during the broadcast to compete for prizes and standing on the leaderboard.
As NBC Sports Washington GM Damon Phillips explained, early reviews were extremely positive.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the amount of interest from advertisers, leagues and other media companies. We’ve had a number of advertisers inquire about sponsorship opportunities for ‘Predict the Game.’ Leagues are intrigued by the future possibilities,” he said. “Several colleagues from other media companies were genuinely happy that someone took the first step with integrating sports betting into a live game broadcast.”
The successful launch points to a bright future ahead for game streams of this nature. In fact, it’s not too hard to envision a future in which the predict-it feature becomes an engrained part of broadcasts.
We could see similar developments within the various venues as well. Picturing each seat being equipped with a tablet device for spectators to participate in some kind of a contest is not a far-fetched idea.
On the league and team side, we’ll likely see sponsorship deals become the norm first. However, the future could be vastly different. All it would take is for one major league to really embrace sports betting before the others eventually follow suit.
These are exciting times within the sports betting industry. Even better, we can safely say that the best may still be to come.