Predictions for the U.S. gambling industry in 2020
Solemnly remembering sitting in the Third Court of Appeals in Philadelphia back in 2015 reviewing the case to repeal PASPA (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act), gave no optimism whatsoever we'd ever see the day sports wagering would ever be legalized again in the United States.
Despite a very solid case and armed with excellent attorneys, the state of New Jersey couldn't gain a first down, let alone a touchdown to sway a reversal. The NFL maintained a Hall of Fame roster of political connections and legal verbiage to anchor down a 1992 decision. Not until a bigger upset than last Saturday's Titans 28-12 victory over the Ravens, came a granted U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) review and stunning decision in May 2018.
Ironically, one of those three federal appeal judges in 2015 was Maryanne Trump, sister of our current President. Her scowl was more intimidating and threatening to legalized wagering than her brother's warning to Iran. The odds of legalized U.S. sports betting leaving the courtroom that day were a consensus 100-1, which makes ANY potential prediction involving sports wagering for 2020 seem 3-5 in comparison. Therefore, anything is possible when so much money is at stake involving casinos, gaming corporations, leagues, media companies and social networking sites looking to mine a new source of revenue.
Pathetically, one of the biggest benefactors who will be leading the charge in 2020 and beyond are the U.S. sports leagues themselves. Yup, those same named prosecutors who financed the courtroom case AGAINST repealing PASPA for so many years. Yes sports fans, it's a whole new ballgame now. So, before spring training, here’s Five Best Bets to possibly wager upon.
1. New York Adopts Internet Sports Gambling
This is more of a lock than NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announcing the Cincinnati Bengals select Joe Burrow as their first choice in the upcoming draft. It’s now not a question of "if" but of when NY Governor Cuomo signs the legislation adding online wagering in this embarrassing issue.
Currently frustrated and angry New Yorkers travel over bridges, by subway trains or by helicopter if necessary. All to break through geolocation fences to New Jersey wagering on sports to the delight and financial gain of the Garden State. Mystery shrouds the governor's fierce stubborn attitude toward maintaining his stance against online gambling, but he will succumb to pressure from several legislators and the people very soon. Perhaps by the time the Yankees and Mets bat in early April. Recent headlines boasting of New Jersey's record handle for online sports betting will accompany a pen on Cuomo's desk.
2. The NFL 'Quietly' Endorses U.S. Licensed and Regulated Sports Wagering
Don't expect any planned press conference or formal announcement, but the NFL will have to join Major League Baseball, the NHL and the NBA accepting sports wagering in the United States as part of our culture. There simply is too much money involved and that is the NFL's core religion. Making money.
The NFL financed all the courtroom activity against repealing PASPA and legalizing sports wagering in America. Now that they've lost the battle, it will be their way of gaining revenge. Kind of like if I can't find a way to convince your girl to love me, I will find a way to buy her love. All the NFL teams are on-board with millions of dollars to pair with casino factions adhering to Commissioner Goodell's rules creating partnering alliances. Excellent timing with the Las Vegas Raiders scheduled to begin play this September.
3. The Sports Wagering Channel
Every day we're being bombarded more and more with notification involving updated line changes, information and handicapping advice on radio, with a big boost now on television. It is not difficult to foresee a totally dedicated channel in scope (possibly by ESPN) of a 24-hour television network of programming, live-talk and entertainment dedicated solely to betting on sports.
We already have a very successful RedZone Channel on Sundays, that is in disguise an updating vehicle for NFL bettors. It has been joined by a similar channel for NCAA College Football by ESPN on Saturdays. The NBA Channel and the MLB Network have incorporated more line updates and info within their broadcasts. Handicapping talk is part of every live broadcast. Sports betting acceptance has gone way out of the closet. A dedicated cable channel promoting it is inevitable.
4. Continued Growth of In-Play Wagering
For a long while a staple within European wagering markets, the behavior of people in the U.S. suggests our culture will love it even more. We are generally impatient people. Having the opportunity at the fingertips of our cell phone or personal computer to potentially win in a few seconds compared to a three-hour period is too good to resist. It's especially attractive for our favorite sport, football, as bettors crave action as if they are calling the plays themselves.
In-play wagering is also a boost to less popular and 'slower' forms of sports wagering. Major League Baseball is an ideal fit given proof of how five-inning betting has substantially increased. Different from proposition wagering, innovative software technology has enabled the group of top online sportsbooks taking advantage of this growing trend. The PGA has outlined their endorsement of in-play wagering as a catalyst for future interest in golf and ratings for major PGA events.
Also adding to the mix will be NASCAR. A very loyal fanbase, but less of a traditional wagering culture. By bringing in new fans adopting an in-play or "in-race" wagering strategy allows several new creative opportunities.
5. A Sports Wagering Scandal and Investigation in the U.S.
It makes for great television and theater. It is now too much part of our new culture that at least one rumored person or team will be involved in accusation of plotting an inside attempt to throw, bribe or manipulate a game or games for financial gain.
Now that sports wagering will be licensed and regulated in as many as fifteen to twenty states in 2020, the door is open to thousands of new people beginning to wager for the first time on sports. They will be joined by thousands of others who've been doing it for many years. It's been water cooler talk for decades that games are fixed, and referees are on the take. Adding in so much media publicity and social media frenzy creates the ultimate opportunity to capitalize.
Look for at least one major story to develop sometime this year. To the rescue will be the 'integrity' forces promises by the professional leagues, plus the dollars committed by the sportsbooks and casinos to fight against any type of illegal or corrupt activity. This is great fodder for NBC Dateline, CBS Reports, ABC 20/20, etc.
*Special Category Best Bet I also predict that Pete Rose will again be bypassed for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2020. However, MLB will continue to form new partnerships with casino corporations during the year for sports wagering and to promote our All-American pastime.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, including previews and picks from Glenn, click here.