SportsPulse: Supreme Court reporter Richard Wolf breaks down the SCOTUS ruling on sports betting in the United States, and what it could mean for the future of gambling in professional and college sports.
USA TODAY Sports
Monday’s ruling by the Supreme Court to legalize sports betting is a big win for gamblers across the country.
With states such as New Jersey potentially open to take bets in time for the NBA Finals at the end of the month, here is what the ruling could mean.
Removing ‘shadiness’ and stigma
Sports gambling has always existed. According to the American Gaming Association, at least $150 billion a year is wagered on sports, 97% of which is bet illegally through such outlets as bookies, off-shore websites and other establishments — known as sports books — that take bets on events and pay out winnings.
By legalizing sports gambling, the Supreme Court has opened the door for casinos, daily fantasy sports sites, racetracks and other potential operators to open up legitimate sports betting operations across the U.S., allowing gamblers to wager without having to use a potentially shady, unregulated website that might not pay you if you won too much.
Some daily fantasy sports sites, such as DraftKings, are already moving towards accepting wagers, emailing users on Monday afternoon about the Supreme Court announcement and saying that it planned to accept wagers in the future.
“Our mission has always been to bring fans closer to the sports they love and now, thanks to the wisdom of the Supreme Court, DraftKings will be able to harness our proven technology to provide our customers with innovative online betting products,” said Jason Robins, DraftKings’ CEO and co-founder.
The legalization also could remove the stigma from sports gambling.
For many bettors, Monday’s announcement “doesn’t affect” their ability to place a bet, says Jimmy Traina, a writer for SI.com and user of 5Dimes, one of the more popular off-shore sites. “There are a lot of options out there for gamblers, and I think the people who have wanted to bet have found off-shore sites and have been able to do their thing.”
“More than anything, now it’s you don’t have to be secretive about it. It’s out in the open,” Traina says.
Betting wherever, whenever on whatever
The other appeal for sports gamblers would be the ability to place bets wherever they are, whenever they want on whatever game is of interest. With sites such as DraftKings, which already allows fantasy sports players to play daily fantasy baseball, basketball, hockey and football games, looking to get in on the sports betting action, it is likely that future U.S. sports books will allow you to place a bet right from your phone, with no need to go to a casino or race track.
Live betting will also likely be offered by at least some sportsbooks, letting you not only make picks before a game begins but getting in on the action even after it is already underway. 5Dimes already offers live betting.
The option of widespread, in-game, live betting “is going to keep you glued to every game no matter what the score is,” says Jacob Luft, product manager for the Daily Racing Form, owner of the sports betting information site Statfox.com.
“It is going to be like the crack cocaine of betting,” he says. “Instead of waiting for three hours to see if you’ve won, you can just keep betting throughout the game. You can bet on the next play.”
Traina, however, does not expect that many people will suddenly become gamblers just because of the Supreme Court ruling. “I don’t see millions of people becoming sports gamblers because it’s legal … It was just as easy to place a bet yesterday as it is today.”
Potentially better odds, and more things to wager on
With a potential boom of new gaming sites available, it’s possible that gamblers could see slightly better odds than what traditional Vegas sports books offer, in a bid to get players to use their sites and services.
Vegas and the sports books will still get their cut — the current Vegas “vigorish” of 10%. That means you need to bet $11 to win $10, but as often is the case with increased competition, the possibility for better odds is out there.
“You might be able to shop around a little,” says Traina.
There also is the option for more “prop bets” on individual games: Will LeBron James score more than 25 points tonight against the Celtics? Will the Washington Capitals score first against the Tampa Bay Lightning? For fans, that could make every game as action-packed as the Super Bowl.
Follow Eli Blumenthal on Twitter @eliblumenthal