One completely and totally underreported story in yesterday’s historic Supreme Court sports betting decision is how this will all affect the lexicon and lingo of owners, coaches, and athletes.
Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr wasted all of a few hours before throwing point spread talk into a press conference (the Warriors were a 1.5 point dog and won handily). Not that most players and coaches aren’t aware of if they’re favored or not, but it will certainly make for more interesting post-game interviews after back-door covering a line with a pointless last second 3-pointer. “You know DA, I hated that the Cavs were such heavy favorites so eff off to everyone who bet them, that’s why I drained the 3 at the end.”
Video of Kerr talking point spreads pic.twitter.com/y71dx50SHi
— Meltz (@MeltzVegas) 15 May 2018
Owners understand the issues and benefits
Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis went on CNBC to wax poetic on the benefits of the ruling, in particular calling out “underground” betting as being significantly larger than legal betting and how this can help the game’s integrity.
As TheLines already pointed out, Mark Cuban also brought up the importance of integrity and specifically how susceptible kids at, say, a small community college could be to fixing. As seen in Europe with lower ranked tennis players and soccer leagues, the less an athlete earns, the more at risk they can be to tampering.
But what about Al Michaels…
Hopefully, TV announcers will take a cue from Al Michaels and weave more spread-talk into their commentary.
Slogging through a Cleveland Browns vs. Buffalo Bills game can be brutal enough, but since betting makes everything more fun to watch, focusing on the line and over/under instead of the inevitable errant Josh Allen passes at least provides an extra angle to cover.
For better or worse, Mark Cuban has long been known as one of the more colorful owners in professional sports. A primary reason is that he’s rarely short on opinions and usually long on sharing them.
With as seismic an event as the eradication of PASPA by the Supreme Court on Monday, it’s no surprise Cuban put in his two cents. Except it was more like four, as he’s traversed the map a bit over the last 24 hours when it comes to legalized sports betting.
Cuban seems of two minds on certain sports betting aspects
Cuban seemed ebullient in the hours following the announcement, singing the praises of the decision to CNBC. The Dallas Mavericks owner and billionaire investor even remarked that owners of any top four professional teams instantly “saw the value of their team double” as a result of the Supreme Court’s verdict.
He sounded somewhat of a different tune during a portion of a Tuesday morning interview on the Dan Patrick Show. Curiously, the note of caution he expressed resonates quite neatly with the NBA’s “company line” on their current sports-betting hot-button issue: integrity fees.
"The bigger problem is the integrity aspect. …. That's 1,000 times tougher at the college level. It's going to be really difficult to make sure that kid at a community college isn't shaving 5 points off the end of a game." – Mark Cuban on @dpshow
— Andrew Perloff (@andrewperloff) May 15, 2018
There’s likely a method to Cuban’s madness
The junior college example he provides is a long and improbable way to go to endorse the need for such a fee.
On the surface, it seems far-fetched that there would be ANY action on a game at that level of athletics for such a scandal.
Moreover, the comment, along with many others that have been made in support of such a provision, seem to ignore what’s long been a reality: millions of dollars are already wagered on college sports each year.
That not only accounts for legalized single-game wagering in Nevada, but for all bets taking place through multiple illegal channels, including offshore sportsbooks. And March Madness pools are so pervasive, they reside in their own zip code, so to speak.
Despite the monumental amounts of cash already riding on college events, the games continue to unfold without any betting-related scandals and corresponding public image catastrophes. Presumably, there is already a certain degree of monitoring and internal policing going on with not just the NCAA, but all of the major sports leagues currently making their full-court press for integrity fees on state legislatures.
Therefore, Cuban’s comment doesn’t really square with his otherwise progressive and enthusiastic stance on sports betting, which even includes support for features such as in-game and mobile wagering.
However, when looked at through the prism of his role as a prominent figure in an entity that would stand to rake in multiple millions from either casinos or the states in integrity fees, it makes a lot more sense.
Nevada is a different animal from the rest of the states that have gambling. The monthly and annual revenue reports from the gaming control board break out how much money was wagered on just about every game in different sections of the state.
Even states with strict oversight don’t offer as much information. One of our favorite monthly tweets is when ESPN gambling writer David Purdum breaks out who much money Nevada casinos win by the game.
Nevada casino March winnings:
Penny slots $283.3m
[Per Nevada Gaming Control]
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) April 30, 2018
Most will notice that sports betting win is usually close to the bottom of the list of all the games in Nevada. While we may not see the same detail from other states, the breakdown of sports betting will be different in every state. New Jersey currently has three line items in its monthly revenue reports.
- Table and other games
- Slot machines
Sports should be a fourth line item when legal sportsbooks can take bets. Sadly, Purdum won’t be able to break out the penny slot machines from the quarter or dollar slot machines in New Jersey. Sports betting in Nevada is very different.
States on the east coast are hubs for major league teams. New Jersey could be the first state to take wagers on sports as soon as Memorial Day weekend. Until New York and Pennsylvania have legal betting markets, New Jersey will be home to anyone looking to make legal sports bets in the area.
Unlike Nevada, New Jersey has a large pool of regional professional teams with large fanbases that already gamble. Not everyone will leave their bookies or offshore accounts but these states should feed gamblers into New Jersey for some action.
Without touching on the western parts of the states the following professional major league teams are located in New York City, Philadelphia and New Jersey.
New Jersey is in a unique position to be a short drive for any of these fans that want to wager on their favorite team. The splits of their gambling revenue shouldn’t be the same as Nevada or most other states.
Regional sports betting won’t be quite the same in other states that will legalize sports betting. Besides having fewer teams there will be a seasonality to sports betting. Mississippi is also expected to be one of the first states to legalize gambling. While New Jersey is close to major league sports teams playing all year long, Mississippi might have a sports betting base that mostly wagers during football season.
The south is all about college football and Mississippi is bordered by some of the most rabid college football states:
Mississippi is a hotbed of college football fans as well and shouldn’t be forgotten. NASCAR and college hoops should also be a big part of sports betting in this region but the state should see a spike in sports betting revenue between late August and early February during college football season.
The landscape of regional sports betting will be interesting to watch and compare. I’m not sure March Madness in Atlantic City is as exciting as Spring Break AND March Madness in Las Vegas, but we all have priorities.