Paying attention to an NFL preseason game, to quote Patches O’Houlihan, is about as useful as a poopy-flavored lollipop.
Sure, Thursday night’s game between the Cleveland Browns and the New York Giants afforded fans to catch first glimpses of Cleveland’s top-overall pick and Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield as well as electric running back Saquon Barkley of the Giants.
But overreacting (or even reacting) to such a game is as pointless as ordering a salad at McDonald’s. It’s like doing a fantasy football mock draft and bragging about your picks, only for the real draft to come around and you end up looking like a remedial student opening the textbook for Existentialist Thought and its Effects on Quantum Physics.
That said, Thursday’s “There’s Nothing Else To Watch So Here’s This” game was historic. Played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the preseason matchup was not about two first-round picks squaring off. Across the street from the stadium is FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack, at which a number of bettors placed wagers for the game. And from their seats inside MetLife, fans opened up the DraftKings Sportsbook app for in-play betting.
As ESPN‘s Ben Fawkes said, “What a time to be alive.”
Landmark moment for sports betting
Online sports betting is not fresh-out-of-the-box new for NFL games. In London, where several games are played each season, there are mobile sportsbooks available for fans to lay down wagers from their seat at the game.
In the US, however, this is uncharted territory. Certainly, there were knowledgeable fans heading to MetLife for the game who were already aware of DraftKings Sportsbook, which soft-launched last week and became available to everyone Monday. But for those who were not savvy, DraftKings made sure those folks were properly informed of the product.
DraftKings just plastering Secaucus station to remind those on the way to MetLife that we’re now in New Jersey where it’s totally legal to gamble on sports on your phone. pic.twitter.com/9V7QepajI3
— Trash Tyler (@tylerlauletta) August 9, 2018
That set the stage for the first NFL game on American soil during which fans could place legal bets from the “comfort” of their own seats inside the stadium.
Live free and bet hard
According to Fawkes’ story on ESPN, DraftKings said there were no restrictions for mobile betting at MetLife. In-game wagering was available throughout the game until late in the fourth quarter, when the game was taken off the board.
No sports betting handle or revenue was reported by DK Sportsbook, but FanDuel told ESPN that the Browns-Giants game accounted for 30 percent of the book’s handle Thursday night. (In Las Vegas, the game was much lower, down near 10 percent at Westgate.)
Certainly, there are detractors from legalized sports betting, especially when it concerns preseason football. With DK Sportsbook promoting itself hard leading up to the game, several Twitter-ers decided to ruin the party, like the kid on a Friday afternoon who tells the teacher she forgot to assign homework for the weekend.
“If you are betting on a browns/giants preseason game you just might have a gambling problem,” one user wrote. Another added, “If you are betting on Browns Giants preseason game, get help. Seriously get help. You have a gambling problem.”
Regardless of this group, mobile sports betting is alive and well in the Garden State. It will be kicking in London for three NFL games in October as well. This is the new world. We’re all just living in it — and enjoying the ride along the way.
Remember those days when the new Jordan kicks would hit the shelves and you’d wait in line and battle anyone for better position like Sylvester Stallone in literally everything he’s ever done?
Well, North Carolina football players clearly don’t have that problem. Actually, quite the opposite. They have so much Jordan gear they are willing to pawn it off like that creepy ceramic dog that’s been sitting in the corner of your garage since the Dust Bowl.
Just a few weeks before the Tar Heels were to kick off their college football season at California on Sept. 1, 13 UNC players were busted and suspended by the NCAA for selling school-issued, special-edition Nike Jordan shoes. Each will serve a one- to four-game suspension, including likely starting quarterback Chazz Surratt.
Why should we care?
For all we know, this could have been a 300-level course at the university. Regardless, it is a secondary NCAA violation. As a result, early sports betting takers for the Tar Heels’ season opener are Carolina-screwed.
Tar Heels were 6-point dogs vs. Cal in Week 1. Game now off the board at several books. https://t.co/DLv2WNKdRF
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) August 6, 2018
Imagine thinking you got the value pick of the year by taking the Heels to cover. The rationale is understandable.
Last year, UNC was plagued with injuries (including Surratt). Coach Larry Fedora was forced to throw youth into the fire, likely during an already-rebuilding year, on the way to a 3-9 record.
But those young players were bound to return with enthusiasm, a full season under their belts as they attempt to revitalize a program that had reached eight bowl games in nine years heading into last season.
Surrat himself started seven of the first nine games last year and finished with a team-leading 1,342 yards passing. Defensive end Malik Carney led the team with 12 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Ends Tomon Fox and Tyrone Hopper combined for 5 sacks among their 24.5 tackles. And Beau Corrales emerged late last season as an emerging and dynamic wide receiver for the heels.
Then this happens: 13 players were busted were busted for selling their Jordans off. Certainly many of those early bettors are throwing themselves down a set of M.C. Escher stairs.
So what happens now?
As noted above, the ever-exciting season opener between UNC and Cal — two programs with a combined over/under win total of 10.5 — has been pulled from several sportsbooks.
Surely the game will return once more intel comes in on the players who will be filling in for those incumbent starters. Additionally, due to several suspended playing the same position, the NCAA approved UNC’s request to stagger suspensions throughout the season. (Carney, for example, will still play Sept. 1 before missing three of the next four games.)
So now it’s up to John Nash to determine what the new line should be. Or Charlie Day.
What if either of these schools was collecting integrity fees on bets, like the NCAA initially advocated for a while back? Now these suspensions could be perceived another way as they are more under the microscope because of the school’s ties to sports betting. There’s a dystopian future to consider.
Back to the real world, though. As mentioned above, the Tar Heels were 6-point underdogs heading into the opener. Chatter abounds regarding the line once this game does return to the book.
Well before this news broke, UNC was projected by South Point sportsbook to win just five games this season. Now, word has it that the Heels could get back on the book as 7.5-point dogs.
Time will tell, however, as we wait for Will Hunting to reset the line. Or Charlie Day.
You don’t walk into a Buffalo Wild Wings to have a thoughtful conversation. At least not with anyone sitting nearby. Perhaps with the referee who wiped away an 85-yard touchdown run for some bogus “block in the back” on the other side of the field.
Buffalo Wild Wings’ slogan isn’t “Wings. Beer. How was your day today? Oh yeah? Well, she never understood you. Let’s talk about your hopes, dreams and fears.” It’s “Wings. Beer. Sports.”
Down the road, however, there may be some slogan-altering needed: “Wings. Beer. Sports. Betting.”
In a Gaming Today story that published Tuesday, it was reported that BWW is looking to expand its menu: locking down a private sportsbook operation to offer sports betting at some or all of its more-than-1,200 locations across the nation.
Hear us out
Stifle that chuckle. This could be a game-changer.
Joke all you want about Arby’s acquiring B-Dubs not long ago, allowing for a potential Buffalo Beef ‘N Cheddar with a side of E. coli. (How dare you make such a joke?)
But there is no debating that BW² is frequently near the top of the go-to destinations for those fans who want to go watch a game or eight. It is a primo location to not only watch whatever heavy slate of college and NFL football action is being broadcast, but also for keeping tabs on daily fantasy sports.
In fact, BW3’s is among the most popular spots for fantasy football draft/weekly league watch parties. So why wouldn’t Bee-Dubya-Three be a hot spot for sports betting?
Infrastructure in place
Obviously, this all depends on legislation, state approval and the economic sense of implementing sports betting. But, like Skip Bayless, just ignore that and focus on something else.
The company has already dug its heels deep in athletics. It sponsored two college bowls in recent years, for example. There are also several brewing companies — Odell Brewing (Draft Party Milkshake IPA) and Founders Brewing Co. (3rd and Lager) — that are partnering with BWW to brew specialty beers for football season.
As for the Buffalo Wild Wings experience, consider all that is already available at each location:
- Televisions galore, like photos of each kid hanging on the walls of Phillip Rivers’ home.
- Each TV has specific games, making B-Dubs the official place to be for anyone with ADD, like a dog seeing a squirrel in the corner of his eye every few seconds. (Making it better, each TV is labeled for the game it is airing.)
- Trivia. Yeah. Trivia. With several screens near the bar dedicated to questions, players have handheld devices to answer questions and rack up points.
Combine all that with an atmosphere filled with more wide-ranging fandom than Drake’s closet, along with beer and wings, BWW is set up to further establish itself as THE spot to be for quality Arby’s … I mean wings.
Maybe Eminem was wrong. Maybe you DON’T only get one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted, one moment. Maybe you do get another shot after missing your chance to blow. Just maybe, more than one opportunity comes once in a lifetime.
Just ask New Jersey.
After all, the Garden State took a stab at legalizing sports betting back in 2014, only to be brought to court by the Big 4: NFL, NBA, MLB, and the NHL. New Jersey filed an appeal and was shot down. It appealed again and was flattened like the chair then-Gov. Chris Christie sat in.
Let’s check in with Eminem to get his reaction to that number of opportunities.
New Jersey was not even the first state to legalize sports betting. That honor went to Delaware. Hi. I’m in … Delaware. Yet like Rudy against Georgia Tech, the game jersey went to Jersey. The Garden State now has a well-deserved and fitting honor to be the first at something, as New Jersey becomes the first state outside of Nevada to roll out mobile sports betting.
Filling up on apps
Whose favorite sports documentary isn’t Rudy? Heresy, if it ain’t. In a way, New Jersey’s drawn-out battle for legalized sports betting is mirrored in the film, particularly with the title character, who may have been a “5-foot nothin’, 100 and nothin'” bumbling Notre Dame football wannabe, but offered quotes with which Jersey can certainly relate:
“We’re gonna go inside, we’re gonna go outside, inside and outside. We’re gonna get ’em on the run boys and once we get ’em on the run we’re gonna keep ’em on the run. And then we’re gonna go go go go go go and we’re not gonna stop til we get across that goal line.”
Rudy also took one thing to heart, something his ol’ buddy Pete offered: “Well, you know what my dad always said: Having dreams is what makes life tolerable.”
New Jersey clinged to its dream of regulated wagering. Not only is it now a reality, but the state is now at the forefront of a new era in a still-young world of sports betting.
DraftKings unveiled its mobile DraftKings Sportsbook on Wednesday after the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement approved the application of the daily fantasy sports giant and Resorts, whose sports betting license DraftKings used to get a foot in the door.
That came mere hours after Caesars Entertainment announced plans to launch its merged Caesars Casino & Sports app (“coming soon,” the company says) to take sports betting online in time for football season.
And that was a day after MGM Resorts International became “the official gaming partner” of the NBA at a press conference that concluded with MGM CEO Jim Murren, as an aside, noted that “we’ll be taking mobile bets from Borgata and playMGM in New Jersey” by the end of this week. (“OK, yeah, thanks for coming, guys. Don’t forget to grab a snack on your way out, Parker here needs a ride home, and also mobile sports betting is coming. K, Byyyyyye.”)
Within a few days, three companies were knee-deep in mobile wagering. Forget “Lose Yourself.” Jersey’s got only one Eminem song on repeat: “Remember Me?”
Welcome to the new age
No world has ever existed like it does today. For sports betting, New Jersey has the machete and is hacking away at the jungle ahead.
For years, the state has been at the forefront of the fight for regulated wagering. It earned all 49 states (not including Nevada) an opportunity to integrate the industry into their economies. Delaware — friggin’ Delaware — stole the spotlight like a neglected middle child begging for Mommy’s approval by becoming the first non-Nevada state to debut sportsbooks.
Now, New Jersey finally has its chance to shine. Enjoy that sack, Rudy. Now off you go.
Sports betting in Mississippi was supposed to launch this past weekend. July 21 was the reported target date. The Magnolia State was penciled in as the third state outside of Nevada — joining Delaware and New Jersey — to offer regulated wagering.
Instead, Mississippi slipped on a 2007 Tony Romo jersey, muffing the snap on a potential game-winning field goal late in a Wild Card playoff game. Early last week, state regulators told Legal Sports Report that there was “a lot of work still going on” to roll out Mississippi sports betting.
Understandable. Lawmakers certainly want a sturdy foundation to prevent any faulty infrastructure. That said, there is definitely a lot of work still to be done.
Notably when it comes to mobile wagering, with which Mississippi has transformed to 2012 Mark Sanchez.
Still waiting on wagering
In a recent interview with Reuters that was published July 20, state gaming commissioner Allen Godfrey said the casinos that would offer sports betting are “still carving out space in their businesses to build sports bars and working to meet other state requirements before they can be approved.”
“Right now, the ones wanting to get started are still in the renovation phase,” Godfrey said. He noted that it could be another two weeks before properties are approved to accept wagers.
Of the 28 riverboat and land-based casinos in Mississippi, 13 have made bids to house sportsbooks. It is expected that all 28 will eventually be approved. Yet there is one tidbit that, like the “still lives with parents” info in the state’s Tinder profile, was buried in the story. It concerns online sports betting regulations, which have been publicized already, but not focused on enough.
Just a town in Alabama
Mobile, Alabama, is just a short drive away from the southeastern border of Mississippi, which apparently wants to keep it that way. At least, outside of casino grounds.
Just over a dozen properties have applied to have sports betting operations on site. Of those, the equivalent of Rickie Fowler’s hope to ever win a major golf championship have applied to have mobile betting: none.
From regulations that were proposed in May:
(b) A book shall accept wagers only on its licensed premises, and only at betting stations or kiosks/terminals approved by the Executive Director or through an on-site computerized Wagering system that has been approved by the Executive Director.
(c) For the purposes of this provision, the approved facility shall include any area located within the property boundaries of the casino hotel facility that the Executive Director determines is legal for gaming. This shall not include parking garages or parking areas of a casino hotel facility.
(d) The Executive Director shall ascertain and ensure, pursuant to rules and regulations issued by the commission to implement mobile gaming pursuant to this provision, that mobile gaming shall not extend outside of the property boundaries of the casino hotel facility authorized for gaming.
But that’s not the story. Godfrey offered an aside to the future of mobile wagering, treating that side of the industry like the beer tent at a concert: Keep it inside.
Godfrey told Reuters that once casinos do submit bids to have online sports betting, it will be restricted to casino grounds.
And there’s your butt fumble. React.
Consider what Mississippi could cash in on. Including states that are nearing the finalization of regulated wagering, West Virginia is the closest, roughly 500 miles away.
The entire South is at Mississippi’s disposal, basically the heart of college football country. Limiting mobile sports betting to casino grounds would theoretically drive up visitation. But the cap for sports betting revenue is lowered.
The Mississippi Gaming Association estimates the casino industry results in $352 million in state and local taxes each year. Yeah, initial windfall from betting is not expected to be Powerball-worthy — anywhere, really.
Still, by restricting the online presence throughout the state to just a select few properties inhibits sports betting revenue even further. That would be like running a pizza delivery service, but only offering delivery within the confines of your parking lot.
Well done, Mississippi.
There’s a difference between acceptance and embrace.
We accept the things we cannot control, like your paint-chipped 1982 Toyota SR5 truck that just got crapped on, ironically, by a mourning dove, the impact of which caused the already low-riding POS to collapse entirely and send two wheels rolling down the street like convicts escaping supermax.
But we embrace things that could make life better or easier, like you watching the wheels flee, the truck helplessly laying in the driveway like Leonardo DiCaprio hanging on to the edge of a floating door post-Titanic sinking because “there was no room for him” next to Kate Winslet, and you realizing it might be time for a new car.
When it comes to legalized sports betting, the NCAA has accepted the fate of its literal crappy truck, but the association will not embrace the change.
Last week the NCAA announced it would be “examining the long-term impact” of regulated wagering on college sports by piecing together an “internal team of subject matter experts” that will explore “how best to protect game integrity, monitor betting activity, manage sports data and expand educational efforts.”
It may seem as though the NCAA is embracing change, but in reality, it is the introvert cowering in the corner at a house party when it should be assisting with the keg stand.
‘Subject matter experts’
In a press release last week, the NCAA said it will construct a working group of “subject matter experts” to assess “all areas where legalized sports wagering may impact NCAA members, including officiating, NCAA rules, federal or state legislation, and the use of integrity services.”
“While we certainly respect the Supreme Court’s decision, our position on sports wagering remains,” Donald Remy, NCAA chief legal officer, said in the release. “With this new landscape, we must evolve and expand our long-standing efforts to protect both the integrity of competitions and the well-being of student-athletes.”
Also quoted in the release was Joni Comstock, senior vice president of championships and alliances:
“Legalized sports gambling across the country is rather new, but the NCAA and its members have committed significant resources over the years to policy, research and education around sports wagering. With student-athlete well-being as the centerpiece, we will continue to build upon these efforts to assist members as they adapt to legalized sports wagering in their states and regions.”
What’s the best way to assist members? How about having actual “subject matter experts” weigh in? You know, people who have been around the industry long enough to remember the last time the NCAA made a decision that was praised by the court of public opinion. (Whenever that was; instituting the shot clock?)
You see, in Las Vegas, maintaining integrity of games is standard. It’s why we don’t open Twitter to see #PointShaving or #WellDangIfYouJustPaidTheAthletesTheyWouldntAcceptBribesJustToFeedThemselves on a daily basis and why light has been shed on the point-shaving scandals that did take place.
We can assume the NCAA is not reaching out to Sin City, or to anyone with actual expertise, as the committee is dubbed by the association as an “internal team.”
Especially considering legalized sports betting will only spike the NCAA’s stock — in popularity and revenue — it would have been more beneficial to the association to embrace the industry rather than skirt around it.
Stepping in the right direction
In a way, perhaps we should applaud the NCAA for making such a decision. Maybe not an over-the-top, “Her-cu-les-Her-cu-les” celebration; more like that patronizing clap as made famous by Captain Picard.
Consider that the NCAA has been stuck in the first stage of the five stages of grief (denial) for years, decades, ever. It was part of the team that took New Jersey to court to maintain the federal ban on sports betting. It battled — albeit briefly — for integrity fees after the US Supreme Court struck down PASPA and opened the door for state-by-state legalized wagering.
Now the NCAA has backed off from its integrity fee position. It cut down its rule that barred states with legalized wagering to host championship events. This committee at least shows the NCAA is accepting this new world. The problem is it should have embraced it like Tommy Boy.
Ever walk down the street, sweating more than Jameis Winston seeing a missed call from the NFL, the sun roasting you more than Mark Davis’ barber?
You ever think, “Man, I wish there was a place I could throw this $5 bill to bet on the hottest places around and win money,” because that’s what normal people do.
Well, you’re in luck… Wait, no? That’s not what normal people do? How can you have sports betting and NOT bet on the weather? That’s like having a sandwich with peanut butter but no bag-full-of-dog-turds-that-has-been-in-my-car-all-day.
Oh, well. Here’s this terrible idea anyway.
Our own Dustin Gouker was celebrating the joy that was July 14. It was landmark. A FanDuel-branded sportsbook just a few months after a federal ban on sports betting was struck down, just a few years after the legality of daily fantasy sports was questioned. Indeed, it was a great time to be alive.
FanDuel Sportsbooks are a real thing in the year of our lord two thousand and eighteen. What a time to be alive.
— Dustin Gouker (@DustinGouker) July 14, 2018
Unfortunately, along came Weather Battle, who is most certainly that guy at a party who is the only one laughing at his own jokes, always interrupting conversations with “well, actually” and you’re like, “Jeez, get the hell out of here, Connor, you weren’t even invited and put some damn pants on, what is this, Late Night with Louis CK?”
Yep! And so is betting on the weather! #rapidlygrowing
— Weather Battle (@WXBattle) July 14, 2018
Naturally, being the hard-hitting, investigative journalist he his, Gouker took the oft-trodden bath of rabbit-hole internet diving. And in 20 minutes, he found the thing that makes us laugh, cry and cringe. Weather Battle – hold your hand 3 inches in front of your forehead – is a platform for users to lay down money on the forecast. Now, unleash that hand.
Seriously, it’s a real thing
No joke. Someone took the time to create a site on which users attempt to predict the weather in places for money. Weather Battle, like Mike Francesa and daily fantasy sports, just created something never before seen: the science of forecasting the weather.
But wait, it gets better. Through thorough research, Gouker found the 10 Commandments of Weather Battle – or what is actually more like the Hooked On Phonics of Weather Battle.
I'm dying, I am not sure if this is the best or worst thing I've ever seen in this space. pic.twitter.com/Rqa7HkWP0M
— Dustin Gouker (@DustinGouker) July 14, 2018
Essentially, you choose a weather phenomenon: heat, cold, wind and rain. Then, pick 10 cities of the 40 provided and pray to the weather gods that those 10 cities are hit the hardest by heat, cold, wind or rain. Put another way: Your couple bucks is contributing toward the misery of others.
So that’s fun.
But wait, doesn’t something like this already exist?
Glad you asked. Yes, in a way.
A weather derivative is used by companies or individuals to hedge against the risk of weather-related losses. The vendor of this financial instrument essentially agrees to bear the risk of weather disasters in return for a payday. Should no damages occur before such a contract expires, the seller makes a profit. On the flip side, in the event of adverse weather, the buyer cashes in.
A weather derivative is a financial instrument used by companies or individuals to hedge against the risk of weather-related losses. The seller of a weather derivative agrees to bear the risk of disasters in return for a premium. If no damages occur before the expiration of the contract, the seller will make a profit. In the event of unexpected or adverse weather, the buyer of the derivative claims the agreed amount.
In the case of Weather Battle, if it was so determined to ruin our lives by existing, there should be more to it. How about an over/under on the temperature for San Diego? What about a point spread of temps between Phoenix, Arizona, and Phoenix, Oregon. No parlays on predicting rain in Seattle, a cold snap in St. Paul or a windstorm in St. Augustine?
I supposed that’s all in the 101 course. Weather Battle is still slogging through its fifth year of remedial classes.
Forget the fact that we could argue the legality of this to begin with (Weather Battle claims to be a “game of skill” to skirt existing state laws). All that matters is one thing:
This is a disaster of an idea that not even FEMA can help with.
New Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper is a smart enough guy. He did, after all, build a global hedge fund empire (Appaloosa Management) that resulted in him becoming an $11-billion man, according to Forbes.
Still, during a press conference Tuesday following the finalization of his purchase of the Charlotte-based NFL franchise, Tepper made an observation about the influence of sports betting on the NFL. And it was … interesting:
“I also think this thing that we talked about a little before, called gambling, is going to make ratings go down. I just have a feeling about that, OK? You may know more about that than me, but that’s my feeling.”
Um, I hate to disagree with you, David, but that sounds like nonsense. People are going to have increased legal betting options in the US and it’s going to result in less viewership? That doesn’t track.
Tepper also didn’t offer any reason for why he thought ratings would go down, probably because there isn’t one.
NFL ratings should actually rise because of sports betting, Mr. Tepper
Last season was not one for the NFL to write home about in terms of television ratings. From the onset, there were reports and chatter that expressed concern of the sport’s dip.
Still, according to Nielsen data, the league accounted for 37 of the top 50 broadcasts in 2017, an increase from 28 the year before.
Now with the path cleared for legalized sports betting, thanks to the US Supreme Court striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), it is more feasible that the NFL enjoys a spike in viewership.
Consider this from another NFL franchise higher-up, New England Patriots president Jonathan Kraft, in an interview last week with the Gloucester Daily Times in Massachusetts:
“We believe long term that there will be a lot of benefits that could happen from gambling in sports. The increased engagement with fans and our sports is what excites us. That can only help our sport and others, like baseball.”
More on ratings and gambling
Kraft also referred to the growing popularity of fantasy and daily fantasy sports and its role in helping viewership:
“They wouldn’t just watch their favorite team, but they’d watch the other games, too, with their players. It drew people to watch a lot of games, like on Thursday night, Sunday night and Monday night.”
The same logic holds true for bettors. If money is riding on a game, the likelihood that a bettor keeps tabs on that game or those games is high. A 2016 study found as much, as the American Gaming Association commissioned a Nielsen Sports study to analyze the relationship between NFL regular-season games and sports betting.
That study found that adults who wagered on the NFL watched 19 more games in 2015 than those who abstained from betting, helping generate more than double the ratings across the major broadcasts and cable networks. Regular-season viewers would jump from 40 million to 57 million once sports betting was legalized, the study concluded, and bettors would watch more programming for longer periods of time.
And to shorthand all of that: Accepting sports betting = higher viewership = more advertising = more money.
Other interesting tidbits from Tepper
During his Tuesday press conference, Tepper intimated his support for sports betting, at least if it’s inside his NFL stadium.
“It was a law that was passed but hasn’t hit the Carolinas…
“You think about the fans, and you want to keep the fans in the building. Eventually it’s going to hit North and South Carolina. It has to, from a revenue standpoint. … It’s inevitable. When we’re thinking about these things, we have to take that into consideration. I want to make sure fans are in that building and sharing this team. I don’t want fans not in that building.”
Let’s forget for a second that no new law was passed — it was a court ruling. Regardless, and considering the NFL’s longtime stance against legalized sports betting, this is an interesting sound bite. Some believe that in-stadium gambling will eventually arrive. But, in the short term, not in North Carolina and probably not in NFL stadiums any time soon.
It is also worth noting that Tepper is quite familiar with the casino industry. His company, Appaloosa Management, holds ownership interest in Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts International and Boyd Gaming.
An NFL league policy has prohibited team owners from operating casinos, although owners can hold investments in casinos as long as they are not directly involve in running the properties.
According to a New York Post story in May, an NFL spokesperson said Tepper’s holdings were “vetted to the satisfaction of ownership and was not an issue in 2009 when Mr. Tepper became a minority owner of the Steelers.”
With Tepper now having a seat at the ownership table and with the legalization of sports betting spreading across the country, it is likely the NFL will need to revisit its rules surrounding gambling. Especially if owners — even teams — begin to benefit from wagering.
The summer months are brutal in sports.
Yeah, we’ll watch an MLB day game. Maybe even catch a round or two of a PGA tournament that is more like an infomercial between majors. Sure, the World Cup is happening; but c’mon, kick me awake when it gets to the final, and even then I’ll writhe like Neymar while painstakingly watching near-goal after near-goal. There’s cornhole on ESPN. That’s … something, I guess.
This is the Sahara of sports. A vast, arid, draining part of the year that’ll have you crawling at the feet of September like it was the Savior.
What are we supposed to bet on? The first-place Milwaukee Brewers vs. the last-place-and-still-getting-worse Miami Marlins? Pass. Dustin Johnson or Rory McIlroy to win The Open Championship in Scotland? Yer aff yer heid. Wimbledon tennis? Swing and a miss.
Fortunately, for US sports betting savants and intervention therapists alike, there is an oasis in this desert of despair: the NBA Summer League.
Growing in popularity – in attendance and handle
We know who they are now, but last summer was not one highlighted by many hyped-up, brand-name players. As a result, the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas was the Lonzo Ball Show as narrated by LaVar Ball.
Ball was the Summer League’s MVP. Here were the other players on the summer’s all-league teams:
- John Collins, Atlanta Hawks
- Josh Jackson, Phoenix Suns
- Dennis Smith Jr., Dallas Mavericks
- Caleb Swanigan, Portland Trail Blazers
- Cheick Diallo, New Orleans Pelicans
- Bryn Forbes, San Antonio Spurs
- Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers
- Wayne Selden Jr., Memphis Grizzlies
- Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
Hindsight, it’s not a terrible list. Six players were named to all-rookie teams this past season. But last summer, if you looked at this list before the Summer League began, you’d be more confused than John Travolta in Pulp Fiction.
Despite being a one-man show, the Summer League drew a record 127,843 fans over a week and a half at the Thomas and Mack Center. For perspective, the previous high was set in 2016: 108,931. Seriously, 20,000 more people watched who-dats. Not only that, they bet on them.
This summer, for the first time, all 30 teams are in Sin City for the Summer League. That, combined with legalized sports betting now in several states outside of Nevada (specifically New Jersey) and every game televised on ESPN, should result in more attendance and handle records.
For bettors, it also creates the perfect storm of degeneracy – especially when you consider the betting lines for teams to win the title.
Quench your thirst
Nick Bogdanovich, the William Hill sportsbook director, told the New York Post that he expects such an upward trend in betting. Mostly, he noted, because of the recent draft with a plethora of name recognition.
“This was a deep draft,” Bogdanovich said, “so there will be some interesting players to watch and there will be good action.”
There are futures bets on which team will hoist the coveted Summer League Before-We-Bust Trophy, and even single-game lines for all 72 contests. Not just in Vegas, but also in New Jersey.
Here’s how ridiculous(ly tremendous) the Summer League wagering is, according to preliminary odds from Westgate:
- Phoenix Suns (8-1): The Suns, after posting the league’s worst record in 2017-18 and the franchise’s worst season since its birth in 1968–69, are heavy favorites.
- Sacramento Kings (10-1): Tied with the Charlotte Hornets for second-best odds, the Kings have not been to the playoffs wince 2006, which is also the last time they were above .500.
- Of the top 10 teams favorited to win the title, seven were in the NBA draft lottery last month.
- Three of the last five Vegas champions went to the playoffs. So that means … well, nothing really. But fun fact nonetheless.
Yeah, these are meaningless games with 80 percent of the players flaming out within five years. Yeah, others might look at you like a vegetarian looks at meat-eaters. But as meat-eaters treat vegetarians: To hell with ’em. I mean, you’re willing to bet on the World Cup, tennis, even FRIGGIN’ HOT DOG EATING. You better get to a sportsbook to throw down a few bucks on the Summer League.
After all, this week-and-a-half stretch of NBA action is the cortisone shot to tide over bettors just enough as they wait for football season.
They say two thousand zero zero, party over, oops, out of time. So tonight, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are going to party like it’s 1999.
Well, sometime soon, hopefully.
Doc Brown has the DeLorean fired up. Let’s crank it to 88 miles per hour to activate the flux capacitor and travel back in time to 2008. Because soon, we could have that era’s top aces in the world of golf: Tiger vs. Lefty. Head-to-head. For 10. Million. Dollars.
Tiger vs. Lefty
According to Golf.com, this matchup nearly happened earlier this week. The two titans were looking to square off in an 18-hole death match in Las Vegas on July 3. But agreements between a major television network as well as several high-end sponsors were not reached in time for the bout.
Still, the former friendly and then not-so-friendly and then friendly-again rivals are confident the match will occur in the near future, likely at Shadow Creek Golf Course in Sin City, as the duo battles for $10 million.
“It’s a ridiculous amount of money,” Mickelson told Golf.com. “No matter how much money you have, this amount will take both of us out of our comfort zone.”
Woods and Mickelson are legendary trash-talkers. Certainly that played a role in the former junior golf rivals’ rift not long ago. Apparently, they are happy-go-lucky now. But Tiger still wields a tongue sharper than a snap hook.
“I’m definitely not against that,” Woods said. “We’ll play for whatever makes him uncomfortable.”
According to Golf.com, the seeds were planted at the Masters in April, when Tiger and Lefty were paired together for a practice round that probably could have received higher ratings than the final round. At the Players Championship the following month, the tandem played in an actual round, and Phil noticed.
“The excitement that’s been going on around here, it gets me thinking: Why don’t we just bypass all the ancillary stuff of a tournament and just go head-to-head and just have kind of a high-stakes, winner-take-all match,” Mickelson said. “Now, I don’t know if he wants a piece of me, but I just think it would be something that would be really fun for us to do, and I think there would be a lot of interest in it if we just went straight to the final round.”
Oh yeah, we’re going to watch
Even if it is 2018, a decade after Tiger’s last of his 14 major championships, a decade in which the two golfers have combined for more cuts at major championships (12) than top-10 finishes (11), certainly we’re all on board to soak in the majesty of their talents.
More so considering Tiger and Lefty are both in agreement to wear microphones while playing. Imagine that. Seriously.
Phil: “Man, this is a rough lie.”
Tiger: “Yeah, it’s not that bad.”
Phil: “Tigs, I don’t need you patronizing.”
Tiger: “Just play it like you did when you won the US Op… Oh.”
Phil: “Can I borrow your 9-iron? Wait, you don’t have it? I’ll ask Elin if she still has it.”
Yeah. I’m tuning in. We have before.
Made-for-TV matches have been around golf for decades. Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf lasted for more than 40 years and pitted the likes of Fred Couples and John Daly – Roger Murtaugh vs. an-even-heavier-drinking Martin Riggs – against each other. There was the annual Monday Night Golf that included Tiger for several matches, including one in which Woods and Daly lost to Mickelson and Retief Goosen in 2005.
So, of course, we’ll watch. But how to make this more interesting…
Place your bets
Yes, Tiger and Phil are playing for a measly $10 million. But let’s get the public involved. What’s the game going to be?
Stroke play, match play, Nassau, Bingo Bango Bongo? Three Blind Mice, Mutt and Jeff, Criers and Whiners? Staying out of Trouble might be most fitting for them, as points are awarded for slices and snaps and shots in the bunker and water.
OK, forget the format. How about some props?
- Winner’s score (if it’s stroke play): over/under +4
- Number of times a trainer is called to check on sore body parts: over/under 3.5
- Number of visits to the cart girl for a cocktail: over/under 2.5 (if Daly is involved, that jumps to 12.5)
- Number of times Tiger and Phil get heated in rules arguments: over/under 17.5
- First to swear: Tiger -800, Phil -200 (“Dadgummit” counts)
- First to cheat: Tiger -400, Phil +400
- First to bring “BASEketball” psych-outs into the contest: Tiger -500, Phil -200.
- And first to celebrate like Squeak from BASEketball: Even money.