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April 25, 2018

Three Reasons Why It’s So Hard To Take NBA, MLB Seriously On Sports Betting

Dustin Gouker April 25, 2018
NBA Sports Betting

Despite what you might have read, the NBA and Major League Baseball are not actually proponents of legal sports betting in the United States. In fact, they are only in favor of it when it can benefit them directly.

If they actually were champions of sports gambling, we’d have seen a far different story arc for sports gambling here. And we would see them advocating for far different things in legislation as it is introduced in state legislatures around the country.

As the leagues further vocalize what they want, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to view the leagues as rational actors worth paying attention to in the sports betting debate as we await a decision in the US Supreme Court sports betting case.

The leagues started lobbying only when they had to

The NBA has been hailed as a progressive force of change for US sports betting for years, even as it sat idly by to do nothing other than say it should be legal and regulated in the United States.

To wit, the NBA said it would not lobby Congress — let alone states — as recently as a year ago before an abrupt pivot to say that it would. As soon as 2018 rolled around, we learned the two leagues were putting on a full-court press in as many as a dozen states.

Why the sudden change? It coincided with the Supreme Court’s decision to take the New Jersey sports betting case, in which the NBA, MLB and other sports leagues were litigants. And then in December, oral arguments went poorly for the leagues, most analysts agree.

That means the sudden change from a laissez-faire attitude is not borne out of a real change of heart on sports betting, it came from necessity. The leagues had sensed they lost control of both the “when” and “how” for sports betting. And suddenly they started telling everyone how it should be done.

To make it clear that the leagues don’t really support regulated sports betting unless their list of demands is met, they continue to oppose a law in West Virginia that went on the books this spring.

The bottom line: the NBA and MLB could have been working on creating a legal and regulated environment for sports betting years ago, and those attempts would seem a lot less disingenuous than they do now.

The leagues are asking for a cut…of NJ sports betting

This amazing story surfaced last week.

Even as the leagues fight New Jersey in court, the NBA and MLB are lobbying government officials in the state to give them a cut of all wagers along with other things they are asking for in other states.

It’s crazy that they are brazen enough to have stymied sports betting in NJ for years and then turn around and ask for a cut when it turns out they might lose the case. The next thing you know, the same leagues will be going to Nevada — a place where legal wagering has existed for decades — and make the same demands.

Here’s what’s happened in the six years that NJ sports betting has been hung up in two different court cases:

  • A number of Atlantic City casinos have closed.
  • AC went through a state takeover because of its struggling finances.
  • The state has paid $8 million in legal fees.

And now the leagues want money from New Jersey gaming interests? Come on.

The leagues are not really offering anything of value

The leagues are asking for a lot of money and control when it comes to sports wagering. But they’re not giving back anything in return, as least not legislatively.

They’re offering to be a part of the process for monitoring and ensuring integrity of the underlying games, but that’s something they’re going to do anyway.

The leagues continue to argue that “we exist, therefore pay us to bet on our games.” That’s an awful argument, and it really doesn’t work like that almost anywhere in the world.

The leagues, at the core, want to be paid for their intellectual property, and they don’t want any strings attached to it. If they would start offering something of value to states and prospective sports betting operators, that might be a different story.

But for now, the leagues are putting their hands out and giving nothing in return. That’s a stance that’s difficult to take seriously if you’re a government official or gaming company.

Is VSiN A Sports Betting Model For Mainstream Media Companies?

Marc Meltzer April 25, 2018
VSiN Brent Musburger

Yes and no.

It’s not shocking to say that gambling has slowly been creeping into mainstream media over the past few years. Gone are the days of Uncle Brent Musburger sliding in a vague reference during a game that only gamblers would know. ESPN is owned by gambling haters Disney but they have a sports betting news section on their website called Chalk and allow Scott Van Pelt ample time on TV to speak directly about gambling.

Sports gambling talk is still gaining steam for mainstream America and we can once again thank Uncle Brent for helping bring gambling to the masses.

Every source contacted for this story pointed to Brent Musburger’s recently launched Vegas Stats and Information Network as an example of what the future could look like if gambling becomes more permissive — a niche digital platform focused on betting lines.

“This story” is “Media ready for pivot to digital platforms, real-time sports betting” and is more of a look at the pivot to gambling platforms than pivoting to gambling content. I’m not sure why any media would refer to any changes specifically as a “pivot.” The pivot to video was a nightmare. Maybe they’re trying to set up a move to sports betting as a debacle as well.

As a radio station, VSiN does a good job of creating useful sports betting content with the use of a diverse staff and guests that include sportsbook employees, gamblers and traditional media willing to use their information for gambling.

VSiN might be a good example for mainstream media companies on how to create useful audio and video sports betting content. However, this is really just the beginning. Platforms are the future for sports betting in mainstream media.

  • Facebook paid $35 million to stream one baseball game per week for the season.
  • BR Live offers live sports and written content on one screen.
  • 75% of gambling will someday occur on digital and mobile devices according to Zach Leonsis.
  • Sports entertainment and gambling is all about the second screen.

Like everything in media, the future of sports betting will most certainly mobile. The massive HDTV in your living room might still be the place to watch the games but it’s only a part of the experience. There’s almost always mobile devices on hand. We need more devices dedicated to social media, live streaming, watching and listening to other media, and of course gambling.

Creating non-game sports betting content like VSiN offers is great but it’s only part of the gambling entertainment proposition. Watching the games is still an integral part of the betting on sports. Being able to watch on a social hub like Facebook or Twitter while chatting with others about the game is great. Now, add a tab to the browser that’s open to a sportsbook for live betting and we have some serious action.

Zach Leonsis from Monumental Sports Network expects that national sports betting will be 75% mobile. Nevada is already seeing the transition of sports betting from brick and mortar to mobile. Several sportsbook operators are taking about half of their wagers via mobile and that’s growing every year. Looking forward, combine sports wagering apps with streaming services and content providers like BR Live. This might create the perfect combination of live sports, sports betting, and sports betting news.

We should see the technology catch up to demands once sports betting is legalized around the country. It’s going to take a little time but it’s coming.

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