Online gambling's foothold can only increase with stay-at-home orders
Up until this recent year, sports wagering was forever considered something dirty if not uncomfortable to mention within any broadcast media perspective. That all changed one fateful day, May 14, 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court reversed PASPA (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act). We all knew it would cause a major, drastic change within our country, but no one would have taken the odds how quickly it would have taken effect.
Add on our current coronavirus crisis adding a specific catalyst for online wagering akin to our necessity for take-out and delivery food. Possibly equal to today's convenience to having your favorite meals delivered is a 24-hour menu of sports action delivered online. And like the song says: Oh, don't it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you've got till it's gone . . .
And could it have come at a worse time? Right at the beginning of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. March Madness in its eclipse of three weeks now outweighs the NFL playoffs in sheer wagering volume. Add on the anticipation of the Major League Baseball season beginning plus the continuation of both the NBA and NHL season. Heartbreaking that the Kentucky Derby will not be the first of May, but the first of September this year.
It's a new kind of madness, for sure. But the most fascinating discussion is many of these games (except the Derby, of course) are now under discussion to be played without fans present. Perhaps a soundtrack of screaming and excitement will be piped in on television akin to how a laugh track coincides on our favorite situation comedy. It will be bizarre, but one favorite pastime will be joyously welcomed back by mostly all. Your right to wager online.
No More Double Entendres
Before the virus hit, already generously appearing were betting lines for games scrolling under screen on several ESPN and FOX broadcasts. Watch for that to not only continue purposely on other networks as well, but parlay sponsorship's along the way.
Most appreciated will be an open atmosphere of wagering talk during games, perhaps subtle but not shamelessly hidden like it was some sort of forbidden language.
As example, we all recall Al Michaels legendary references to the Over/Under total at the end of a hopelessly boring Sunday Night or Monday Night Football games. No more "stay tuned it ain't over yet" or "don't go away the Jets could under-whelm you". It was as if you didn't understand the language or weren't in on the joke.
No, it will be all out in the open now. Good for ratings, good for the networks and most important GOOD FOR THE LEAGUES.
According to language from their recent signed collective bargain agreement, revenue from "gambling on any aspect of NFL games, any performance of NFL players in NFL games or in any other NFL/Club-related activity" is included in the agreement that even mentions potential profits from slot machines "located in or physically attached to an NFL Stadium."
The CBA indicates that sportsbook operations from the stadiums could run during the off-season as well, although players would receive a smaller percentage of profits from bets on sports other than the NFL.
The only thing missing would be NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell getting on the virtual podium during the upcoming NFL Draft in April announcing he welcomes gambling to the NFL this season and into the future. Let's not get crazy. The odds on that are still way beyond the Washington Redskins winning the Super Bowl. But hey, who would have ever believed seeing live odds liberally scrolling across your screen a few years ago?
Live Sports Right Now
Who says we don’t have live sports to wager upon online today?
Although quite selective, a handful of racetracks are welcoming live horse racing in front of empty grandstands. The list of preferred sportsbooks still offers simulcast wagering from top tracks including Gulfstream Park, Tampa Bay Downs and Oaklawn Park. Many tracks are missing due to COVID-19, but you can't be picky about the menu. Bettors are just happy to "get something to eat" while top tracks including Santa Anita, Keeneland and Aqueduct figure out their current plans.
The NBA, NHL forecast the most optimistic renewal date of approximately June 1st. The NCAA College Basketball Tournament is done for this year and the Olympics are scratched until 2021. Who knows what Major League Baseball will come up with as you can't play a 162-game season into December coinciding with the NFL. If you must wager on something, I say the horses are much, much more common sense than say, international ping pong or volleyball.
And although not a traditional sport, online poker is enjoying a renaissance due to the coronavirus. All the top online sportsbooks, including Bovada, 5Dimes, BetOnline and Bookmaker have featured poker in their portfolio for several years.
Post Coronavirus USA
It will be interesting to observe the many cultural differences in our country once we eventually emerge from the horrible shadow of this current disease crisis. We're all somewhat getting used to living a life of take-out food and delivery service. Figure that to continue while many will still enjoy the normal congenial atmosphere of meeting at a restaurant.
As for our wagering habits, look for online gambling and specifically the convenience of phone wagering online to further dominate the U.S. market. Better cash systems to deposit and withdrawal wagers. And for only online wagering necessary to keeping up with the increasing popularity of in-game wagering. Especially upon feature games like Sunday Night or Monday Night Football.
My thought is…. if we can now run horses with no people in the stands to scream and bet, and we might soon be playing NBA basketball and NHL hockey without fans in the arena to root or boo against teams, do we really need people in casino sportsbooks to cheer, scream or shout F-bombs for their bets when they can conveniently do it at home or work?
Then again, before this month, I never heard the term “social distancing”.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, including previews and picks from Glenn, click here.