Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Sports

What’s next for sports gambling after the Supreme Court ruling Monday

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down a 25-year-old federal law that effectively prohibited sports betting outside Nevada, clearing the way to legalize gambling on football, basketball, baseball and other sports.

Here's the Times sports staff members' takes on how the ruling could change the sports they cover:

Betting windows at Raymond James?

Rick Stroud, Times Bucs writer: The NFL, as much as any professional league, would see a potential windfall of new revenue if even one percent of legal wagering is owed to them as an integrity fee or royalty to the league.

The NFL would take on additional expense for monitoring and enforcement. They will have to regulate what kind of prop bets are permitted, etc. In the long term, if it were permitted in NFL stadiums, it could help increase the game day experience. But maintaining the integrity of the game is the biggest concern.

College football coaches may have to disclose injuries

Matt Baker, Times college sports writer:  College football doesn't have a uniform policy on reporting injuries. Jim McElwain addressed them three times a week during his Gators tenure; Dan Mullen rarely acknowledges them. Could this decision pave the way for an NCAA-mandated report, like what the NFL requires (in a subtle nod to its friends in the desert)? Maybe. It wouldn't be perfect. Even though the ACC has one, Florida State didn't list quarterback Everett Golson's concussion in 2015 before he was sidelined against Syracuse. Regardless, I could see the NCAA, or at least some conferences, requiring more transparency on injuries, even if gambling isn't cited as the reason why.

Great day for baseball ‘insiders’?

Marc Topkin, Times Rays writer: There already is legal gambling on baseball and other sports in Vegas, and not-so-legal elsewhere, so the potential change is just the expansion. Which clearly would make it easier, more convenient and enticing for people to bet. And, especially in an every day sport such as baseball, that can make "inside" information king.

For example, say a player or team official mentions in conversation to his brother (or sister, cousin, whatever) that their next day's starter or key player is sick, or hurt, or won't play for some other reason. Might that person, who otherwise might at the most use that in his fantasy baseball league, now be tempted to pull into the sports book they drive by every day and put that info to use? Going further, what if there are betting windows at the stadiums or on mobile devices? Will "experts" now be placing bets based on who they see swinging well in batting practice, or warming up in the bullpen?

One benefit: Expansion of sports betting might either make clear, or change, the confusing "money lines" on MLB games often listed like "-105" for a return based on an outright win rather than using runs as "points" like in football and basketball spreads.

Beware the temptation

Joey Knight, Times USF writer: Before disbursing parking decals and practice schedules when its athletes reconvene for a fresh school year, USF's athletic department honchos may first call an emergency refresher course. To reinforce the seriousness of the NCAA's rules on gambling, which just became a lot more convenient to break.

By ruling that a federal ban on state-sanctioned sports betting is unconstitutional, the nation's highest court just might have exposed many student-athletes to a tidal wave of temptation. NCAA rules prohibit student-athletes — and athletic department employees — from wagering on sports at any level, but think about it: The urge to do so may be irrepressible for some less-affluent Bulls athletes, especially if it can be done all nice and legal at their neighborhood Hard Rock. Which isn't to suggest graduate-assistants be stationed at every casino entrance on weekends.

Student-athletes now receive scholarships that help pay the full cost of attendance (including travel money and other living expenses). Moreover, the rules against gambling is pounded into their collective cerebrums from the moment they collect their student ID cards. But the temptation just became a lot more profound, and officials must police against that.

On the flip side, legalized gambling can greatly enhance interest, and broadcast ratings, for Group of Five programs such as USF, perhaps leading to more lucrative TV deals and bigger monetary payouts for the schools. But that's long-term optimism. For now, it's about short-term diligence.

Increased interest in how Jameis practices

Thomas Bassinger, Times sports analytics reporter: There will be a surge in interest in developments out of midweek football practices. Did Jameis Winston participate? Did it look like his shoulder is bothering him? Fantasy football already has increased interest, but legal gambling raises the stakes. Fans will be looking for an edge more than they ever have before.

Oh, and let's have a moment of silence for Al Michaels' "wink, wink" nods to point spreads. If the NFL embraces betting, no more sneaky references.

The integrity challenge

Greg Auman, Times Bucs writer: Point-spread betting has always been a huge part of the massive interest in the NFL. If it's possible to add more revenue surrounding the billions the league accounts for, legalized gambling will do that. The challenge: Maintaining the integrity of the game when so much more is now riding on every outcome.

Sorry, Costa Rica

Martin Fennelly, Times sports columnist: It's like ending Prohibition. People gamble. Lets drop the pretense. Put a baseball team in Vegas and have Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe's descendants throw out the first pitch. Fixing games won't increase; too easily spotted. I just feel bad for Costa Rica— offshore sports books are one of their big employers. People already gamble on what they want and on who they want. By the way, take the Lightning and the pucks in Game 3. Love, Marty the Greek.

Contact Mike Sherman at [email protected] Follow @mikesherman

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Published: 08/20/18