Long time readers of Niners Nation (and even some newcomers) know that I am a fan of sport gambling. I have been known to place the occasional wager, and I have had my weekly SuperContest picks going this season. Gambling adds an element of interest to games I might otherwise have no interest in. There are plenty of reasons why the NFL is the most popular professional sport, and it is safe to say that gambling is a fairly significant reason why that is the case.
Nonetheless, the NFL and the other major sports leagues have screamed frequently about the dangers of gambling, and how it will hurt the integrity of their games. They do this while ignoring the fact that plenty of people wager on sports each week, and things like fantasy football are only a small judicial interpretation away from formalized sports betting.
Fortunately, one commissioner seems to have recognized the reality of the situation. NBA commissioner Adam Silver wrote an ope-ed for the New York Times in which he explicitly argued for the national legalization of sports betting. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 outlawed sports betting across the country, with exceptions fo Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana. New Jersey has attempted to create sports gambling, but it is currently held up in the court system, with the major leagues arguing against New Jersey's law.
In his op-ed, Silver acknowledged that gambling has become more widespread, and more accepted as a form of entertainment. Internationally, sports betting is allowed and regulated. Silver argues that the time has come for a change in America:
In light of these domestic and global trends, the laws on sports betting should be changed. Congress should adopt a federal framework that allows states to authorize betting on professional sports, subject to strict regulatory requirements and technological safeguards.
These requirements would include: mandatory monitoring and reporting of unusual betting-line movements; a licensing protocol to ensure betting operators are legitimate; minimum-age verification measures; geo-blocking technology to ensure betting is available only where it is legal; mechanisms to identify and exclude people with gambling problems; and education about responsible gaming.
Sports leagues have always contended sports gambling would hurt the integrity of the game, but legalizing it and bringing it "out of the underground and into the sunlight" will bring monitoring and regulation that do not exist outside of Nevada sports books and other such places. I do not understand how the leagues do not recognize this, but we've seen that they do not apply logic all that frequently.
This is not the first time Silver has indicated an acceptance of sports gambling. Back in September, he was at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit, and he said it was inevitable that sports betting would spread. And it really is. Gambling is expanding online, and the latest we have seen that comes close to that is daily and weekly fantasy sports. You've probably noticed our promotion of FanDuel. They run daily and weekly fantasy sports, which involves paying a small entry fee with a chance to win money. Gambling is viewed as a game of chance, but courts have decided that FanDuel's daily and weekly games involve some measure of skill.
There is some skill in playing fantasy sports, as you can view matchups, injury reports, weather reports and so forth to figure out what you want to do with your lineups. However, there is still a certain amount of chance in a given week. A fantasy owner cannot account for the whims of an offensive coordinator, or an unexpected injury, or a blowout resulting in a starter getting replaced by his reserve earlier than expected. You can try and figure this kind of stuff out, but fantasy sports do involve some measure of chance.
Naturally, the NFL had no comment on it. If Roger Goodell ever does get a question on it and provide a comment, I expect the usual lame cliches from him. He has shown zero leadership as commissioner, and I would not expect him to start with sports gambling. He serves at the pleasure of the owners, so hopefully some of the owners will realize the reality of sports gambling. Washington has taken arguably the most significant step, signing a partnership deal with FanDuel. Other teams sell advertising to casinos and whatnot, but this strikes me as slightly bigger. It is technically for fantasy sports, which others do, but given the money involved in FanDuel, hopefully it bodes well for the league coming around in general.
Whatever the case, I will continue to place bets in Las Vegas, and make my weekly SuperContest picks. That NFL injury report helps quite a bit with that....not that the NFL would have you think otherwise. I await the day when the rest of the leagues get their heads out of their posteriors and get on board with the realities of sports gambling.