Football has returned; the NFL kicked off Thursday night while the college season is already in full swing. Millions of people will sit down in their living rooms or local Bills bar to watch their favorite teams. Of those people, roughly 54 million people will bet on the NFL this season. Whether it’s an office pool, a squares contest, or a paid fantasy league, fans everywhere want a piece of the action- action in excess of $150 billion annually. Legal bookmakers are currently operating in 13 states, the floodgates have opened,and sports betting is here to stay.
So How Did We Get Here So Quickly?
May 14th, 2018, that’s the day the Supreme Court decided Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Assn. and changed the sports landscape forever. This decision overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). PASPA barred states from authorizing sports gambling. The Act was seen as a way to protect the integrity of college and professional sports. This was seen by many as a direct affront to states’ rights and thus unconstitutional. Writing for the majority, Justice Alito reasoned, “A more direct affront to state sovereignty is not easy to imagine.” Congress still possesses the power to regulate sports gambling directly, but so far they have taken a step back and allowed states to proceed with their individual legislation. Many states have already passed legislation in the short time since the decision, while some states decided to pass legislation before the decision, hoping for a favorable ruling. One of the more recent states to legalize sports betting was New York.
Don’t Forget About The NCAA
The NCAA has long stood against the legalization of sports betting. They were the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against New Jersey. They have long argued that legalized gambling would threaten the integrity of the competition. The NCAA has indicated that they would be forming an internal team to examine, “how best to protect game integrity, monitor betting activity, manage sports data and expand educational efforts”. The NCAA is working to monitor the betting landscape. Individual colleges are also concerned about the integrity of the competition. Some have expressed the need for an integrity fee to help ensure integrity is maintained. Another concern is the student-athlete’s medical information and the potential release of that information to better inform the betting public. This presents major privacy concerns and has worried some schools. Individual schools and conferences are in a much better position to ensure integrity than the NCAA is. They see and interact with the players on a daily basis and could more easily spot suspicious behavior. The individual colleges are also in a better position to educate and inform players of the risks and consequences of throwing a game or play. Industry experts have argued that in the future individual colleges or conferences may sign marketing and sponsorship deals with sports books. The future is fluid, but the NCAA isn’t going anywhere. Expect them to continue to push for some sort of integrity fee. College sports is a business, too.
Sports Betting in New York
Over the summer, sports betting was legalized in New York. Sports books are currently operational in four casinos across the state. Each of these sports books is operated by a different online gaming company. For example FanDuel operates the sports book at Tioga Downs. Fans must be 21 to place a wager and these wagers are limited to a final score wager, an in-play wager, and prop bets/futures. Currently, mobile betting is prohibited, but it seems to be only a matter of time before it is legalized. The Seneca Nation is set to open three sports books in Western New York at their Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Salamanca casinos. The Oneida and Mohawk nations are also trying to open their own sports books.
A Closer Look at the DraftKings Sportsbook at Del Lago
DraftKings operates the sports book at Del Lago Resort and Casino in Waterloo, NY. The sports book is open daily and offers fans the opportunity to place any type of wager. There is no window or ticket to fill out and DraftKings is responsible for setting the lines and futures. Everything is done through a betting terminal. Fans simply receive a ticket with their bet and cash it if they are lucky enough to win. The sports book has a nice bar and 20 or so betting terminals. One enthusiastic fan even went so far as to describe the experience as, “one of the best days of my life.”
Del Lago will be packed this weekend as the NFL season kicks off. College football, already a few weeks into their season, should draw a lot of action on Saturday. Sports betting is here and it is here to stay. The consequences of that won’t be felt for years and with online betting looming in the future the way we view and interact with sports is going to change. The “Gambalization” of sports has just gotten started, and the associated legal questions are also just beginning to arise. It’ll be interesting to see what the future holds.