Future of sports betting: the marketplace

The Market

Capitol Hill, both the states and paths to legalization
The mainstream acceptance of sports gambling is peaking. Cash-strapped states are starting to observe sports gambling a potential source of revenue more than a detriment to society. The point spread and gambling actions in Las Vegas are now popular storylines for each and every large game, and for the very first time, a commissioner of a major professional sports team has come out in support of sports gambling betting. There simply has never been so much momentum to legalize sports gambling outside of Nevada.

But momentum and authoritative results are two quite different things. As of now, state-sponsored gambling is prohibited outside of a handful of states, with single-game wagering permitted only in Nevada.

Some from the U.S. government believe it's time for a change and that the present federal gaming laws --most notably the skilled and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), Wire Act of 1961 and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 -- aren't appropriate anymore and require updating.

"The legislation require a wholesale review to learn how they could actually work together and create a fairer playing field for all types of gaming, both online and offline, including sports gambling and daily dream sports," U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., of New Jersey told ESPN. "At the exact same time, we must ensure the laws are in fact creating an environment of integrity and accountability, and include strong consumer protections.

"I intend to continue discussions with the key stakeholders and then will introduce comprehensive legislation to eventually update these outdated laws." Additionally, lobbying efforts led by the American Gaming Association are set to start in 2017. "The following [U.S.] president will have that problem of sports gambling in their desk," AGA CEO and president Geoff Freeman has said.

But the sports aren't on board, nevertheless. They are, however, strategically positioning themselves for widespread lawful sports wagering. The NCAA and NFL remain publicly opposed to legalization. The NHL and Major League Baseball, while demonstrating signs of a softening stance, have stopped short of coming out in full support. The NBA, by far the most outspoken proponent of legalization one of the sport leagues, has repeatedly said it's not prepared to contribute to lead lobbying efforts.

"We have been supportive of legalized sports betting, and we'll continue to be supportive," NBA senior vice president and assistant general counsel Dan Spillane informed ESPN. "If somebody in Congress were to ask our opinion on a bill that's proposed, then I am sure we'd be happy to participate and weigh in." The leagues have financial stakes in daily fantasy sports websites and a sudden interest in vegas, and also have struck deals with information firms that fuel the worldwide sports betting market.

The NFL, NBA and NHL have prices with Sportradar, a Switzerland-based conglomerate that's the parent firm of Betradar, a major player in the worldwide sports betting sector, and Major League Baseball has partnered with Pro Sports, a multi-faceted gaming data firm situated in London. Even the NCAA has a commercial affiliation with Sportradar, with the Pac-12 conference Employing the Help of CG Analytics, a subsidiary of some prominent Nevada sportsbook.

These partnerships represent a profound shift from the leagues' place on line tracking, the job of monitoring gambling data in an effort to recognize odd moves or supernatural money. As lately as 2007, representatives of the NBA, NCAA, NHL, MLB, and NFL sent a letter to Congress ignoring the value online tracking.

Additionally, game ethics issues -- frequently cited as a reason to battle regulated sports gambling -- are now increasingly being used as a reason to encourage legalized sports wagering, given the capacity to track statistical data.

Even though the leagues' stances are changing slowly, pros say sports betting of the legal variety is still years away from coming at the regional casino or onto your cell phone.

"My heart says it should be one to three [years]," former NBA commissioner David Stern told ESPN in September. "My head says it's between five and 10."

Individual states may not wait long.

New Jersey has invested millions of dollars in legal fees while fighting the sport leagues and hard PASPA (the federal prohibition on state-sponsored sports gambling ) in its continuing case that began back in 2012. In October, New Jersey filed its second appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on this matter.

This summer, Pennsylvania passed a resolution urging Congress to"raise the Federal ban online sports gambling and also to allow countries that authorize, permit and regulate casino gaming, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to legalize sports betting through its accredited facilities." And New York Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow is currently planning a 2017 legal struggle to PASPA.

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