Fortenbaugh: What will the sports betting industry look like?

May 15, 2018, 11:24 AM
sports betting...
A recent Supreme Court decision has paved the way for legalized sports betting. (AP)

The Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday put an end to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which effectively allows states to legalize sports betting. But what will the sport gambling industry of the future look like? Can we expect a battle between states and major professional sports leagues for a slice of the pie? Will it jeopardize the integrity of the league? And how soon can bettors in Washington State get in on the action?

95.7 The Game’s Joe Fortenbaugh joined Bob, Groz and Tom on 710 ESPN Seattle to examine the future landscape of legalized sports betting.

Brett Smiley explains recent Supreme Court ruling on sports betting

“What you’ll mostly see is the idea of having to go to a physical location,” Fortenbaugh said. “But it’s only a matter of time before you start seeing these high end sports bars pop up that’ll take sports wagers as well. And then eventually you’ll have the states smarten up and develop their sports betting apps so that anybody within the state boundaries can go ahead and make a wager.”

Fortenbaugh says the NFL won’t be especially affected in part because of its massive existing audience and ratings. But lesser-watched sports like golf and racing will benefit early from the ruling.

It doesn’t mean there won’t be a benefit for the MLB, NBA or NFL. Fortenbaugh expects an influx of programming and resources for a sports betting audience.

“They should incorporate new stats-based features based on prop betting. I think you’re going to start seeing a boom in media coverage from the major networks. You’re going to start seeing more sports wagering analysis incorporated into a lot of this stuff. It would be the smart way to play it.”

Will the leagues profit from betting?

In short, no. At least not directly.

“What you’re going to see from congress is heavy lobbying on behalf of the professional sports entities. So the NFL especially, NBA, NHL, MLB, probably the NCAA as well, WNBA, they’re going to be lobbying their congressmen, their senators, their governors, and they’re going to be doing everything they possibly can to get congress to kind of do what Goodell is calling ‘lay out a framework’ for how to initiate sports betting. It’s a fancy way of saying, ‘We want our cut. We’re going to pay congress a lot of money to set up rules in which we will get a cut from this.’ But right now it doesn’t matter; the states can go ahead and pass it if they see fit and they can start taking action.”

What’s the downside to Monday’s ruling?

“It depends,” Fortenbaugh said. “What you’re going to hear is that this is going to jeopardize the integrity of the league. That’s such a load of garbage. First of all, all these guys are paid so much money. How much would you have to give Tom Brady to throw a game? If you’re making $20 million a year, you’re not going to take a $15,000 payoff to throw a game. Everyone always tries to tell you that legalized sports wagering is going to lead to all these shady characters lurking in the distance. The professional sports franchises, they’ve been monitoring point spread movements in Vegas for quite some time. A lot of these bookmakers operate as league consultants and they will alert the proper officials if they notice something suspicious with the line. If anything, I think everything’s going to become more buttoned up, at least from a professional sports level.

“Now, college sports will be an interest thing to keep an eye on. Those kids don’t make any money, so maybe something can happen there. But I really don’t see in this day and age how anyone’s going to pull that off without it getting noticed.”

When will Washington State take part in sports betting?

States will still have to independently pass legislation on sports betting, and thus far Washington is not one of the almost 20 states to have proposed a bill. That doesn’t mean Washington won’t propose legislation. However, the state will need to re-visit gaming compacts with local tribal communties, which will likely lead to a longer approval process – closer to two years – than other states like New Jersey or Delaware.

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Fortenbaugh: What will the sports betting industry look like?