Thoughts on the Legalization of Sports Gambling in NJ & Beyond

| May 17th, 2018

Sports gambling was always going to happen in the United States. And now that the Supreme Court decision has come down, sports radio airwaves have been lit up with takes ranging from willfully naive to pointlessly puritanical. As someone who has illegally gambled for the last twenty years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the issue. Here’s some of that thinking.

  • Chris Christie is a scumbag but he deserves a lot of credit for this decision. As governor of NJ he understood the only way to beat the lobbying powers of the major sports leagues was to sink taxpayer money into the legal fight. He did. And now the great state of New Jersey is going to be the first to reap the windfall when a sportsbook opens at Monmouth in the coming weeks.
  • Most people know sports gambling, especially when it comes to football, as full game point spreads and over/unders. What a full sports book does is open up hundreds upon hundreds of bets per game. The barroom bookie doesn’t take action on first touchdown scored or third quarter first downs or catches by the backup tight end. (They take almost no action at all on golf, NASCAR…etc.) The active sports books around the country will take this action and the most creative ones will make the most money.
  • This will all be done digitally, of course. That’s where the most money will be made. But I’d imagine you’ll see some storefront sports books, especially in major cities. Think of the old ESPN Zones – a million TVs, seven bars…etc. But now everyone in the joint will be able to walk over to a teller and place bets.
  • I’ll be shocked if this leads to some epidemic of gambling addicts. Anyone who wants to gamble for the sake of gambling can do so right now. What do people think DraftKings and FanDuel are? There are race tracks all over the country. Scratch-offs and the lottery are gambling for dimwits. Are there scratch-off addicts? I’m sure. But nobody ever writes a newspaper article about them. There are betting parlors in every mid-sized Irish village. They’re surviving just fine.

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