Sports Betting History

On May 14, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court knocked down a federal law that limited regulated sports betting to Las Vegas. One of America’s oldest pastimes, sports betting, was hidden elsewhere.

The NFL and other leagues believed bookmakers and bettors would hurt sports if other states allowed bookmaking. The media rarely mentioned sports betting, except for a few veiled references to the point spread.

Three years after the Supreme Court’s landmark verdict, all the major leagues have official betting partners and sports betting is everywhere. Unavoidable.

NBA arenas and MLB outfields have sportsbook signs. Many of the 21 states that have created betting markets feature billboards for bookmakers, and TV ads for sportsbooks air as often as soup ads, which are legal in all jurisdictions.


Bookmakers are becoming sports entertainment outlets with award-winning journalists and famous talking heads, while accepting bets on the games they cover.

American bettors are betting on Ukrainian table tennis and YouTube boxing events. In March, $4 billion was wagered at U.S. bookmakers, a record.

It’s just the start of what might become the world’s largest legal sports betting market. Ask NFL.

Chris Halpin, NFL’s chief strategy and growth officer, believes sports betting will be huge in five to 10 years.

Like nonstop sports betting

Joe Kerekffy is fishing on frozen Lake Dillon in early April, surrounded by snowcapped Rocky Mountains.

Sports betting won’t disturb this peace.

Kerekffy is a 54-year-old Californian who fishes and skateboards for fun. He’ll watch NASCAR on a major network. He says it lowers his cable bill.

Gonzaga vs. Baylor is tonight’s national championship game, and Colorado’s new sports betting market is discussed.

Disgusted, Kerekffy rants: “I hate commercials. Nonstop sports betting. I see the same ad twice or three times in a half-hour of news. It’s tedious and exciting. Irrational.”

Even though he’s not a sports fan, he gets sports betting advertising.

Top sports betting companies accounted for 10.61 billion TV ad impressions from Sept. 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021, when mainstream sports returned from the pandemic hiatus.

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Nielsen reported that internet gambling, mostly sports betting, spent $154 million on local TV ads in Q1 2021. With the jarring increase in advertising — from none to a ton — there’s fear of backlash from regulators and lawmakers, including at the NFL, which is preparing to allow ads for sportsbooks this season after naming Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings, and FanDuel as its first official betting partners in the U.S.

Halpin said the NFL is considering “frequency restrictions” and limiting sports betting advertising. In other countries, when the gaming business was excessively pushy with advertising during games, undesirable results occurred.

Halpin: “It’s a major step” “We’ll be careful how we open inventory. We have fans who adore, like, don’t care, and loathe sports betting. We can utilize several tools to satisfy the first two categories without upsetting the third. We’re doing that.”

Sports enthusiasts remember the 2015 ad blitz for daily fantasy tournaments. At its peak, iSpot.TV showed a FanDuel or DraftKings commercial every 90 seconds. The advertising drew mainstream fans to daily fantasy sports but irked certain state attorneys general. DraftKings and FanDuel paid $12 million to resolve a false advertising lawsuit the next year.

DraftKings co-founder and CEO Jason Robins told ESPN that marketing and messaging caused some backlash. “We’re attempting to learn from that experience and rebrand the product.

“From what we learnt at DFS and the industry collaboration, I’m encouraged that advertising and messaging are being thought out,” Robins said. “I hope that creates a positive market reaction.”

Americans are seeing sports betting commercials everywhere. Since 2018, sports betting commercials on billboards, public transportation, and outdoor furniture are increased 193%. (OAAA). Out-of-home sports betting advertising cost $11.5 million in 2020. According to the OAAA, that’s half of similar political ad spending. All 50 states allow politics; about half allow sports betting.

“Big money will be spent,” says the boss of a marketing firm that serves MGM and Wynn. “Like political advertising, I think it’ll get noisy and disturb people. We’re not saturated, though.”

Bookies as media

Sports betting was once unpleasant and unclear in the media.

Millions of Americans bet billions of dollars, but you couldn’t talk about it on broadcast. Changed.

ESPN has turned sports betting into a cash stream.

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A daily sports betting news and information show (6-7 p.m. ET, ESPN2) that strives to educate general sports fans with in-depth analysis. View

Bookmakers are becoming their own media channels, cutting away the middleman. Sportsbooks produce game previews and predictions on sports for which they set odds and take bets. Bettors demand this despite the apparent conflict of interest.

69% of bettors prefer betting tips, even from the bookmaker they’re betting against, according to a Hot Paper Lantern survey.

DraftKings has bought VSIN, a sports betting platform featuring Brent Musburger. DraftKings paid $69.9 million in cash and shares for VSIN.

“We made it clear from day one that there would be a split between VSIN content providers and DraftKings sportsbook traders,” Robins added.

DraftKings isn’t the only bookie-media conglomerate. Instead of Fox Sports Networks, we have Bally Sports, 19 rebranded regional sports networks that will be supported by a betting app. Penn National bought Barstool Sports and established Barstool Sportsbook in 2020.

“As television ad income and audience continue to fall, huge brands will continue to generate content and act like media firms,” said Harkey.

Other bookmakers develop content in-house and hire journalists and personalities from traditional media.

PointsBet recruited Teddy Greenstein, a Chicago Tribune sports columnist, as senior editor in October. During his 24 years at the Tribune, Greenstein covered U.S. Opens, the Masters, and Big Ten football games. He deems his present employment “the ultimate job.”

Greenstein: “I should thank the Supreme Court daily.”

Greenstein presents PointsBet’s golf preview show, “The Range,” with social media influencer Paige Spiranac. He also generates written content and prospective prop options, entertains VIPs in Chicago, and makes regular media appearances.

“Sportswriters had a murky area regarding betting,” Greenstein added. “We always avoided it. I’m pleased to see today.”

Greenstein picked every Big Ten football game against the spread for years and later covered several of the same games as an opinion columnist. He made self-deprecating remarks about his record in his column and continues to do so for PointsBet. He sees the conundrum of making wagering forecasts that his company may be against financially.

Greenstein: “I don’t get paid if my predictions fail.” “I hope others succeed. Big firm. We’re wealthy, so I want my golf picks to win.”

Who’s betting?

Not mainstream sports. Table tennis betting exists. EPA/Sergey Dolzhenko

Eugene Romero, a 37-year-old Denver husband and father, was seeking for something interesting to do during the coronavirus pandemic last spring and summer.

His favorite casinos, pubs, and restaurants were closed, and he rarely went to work. Romero found refuge in a dark nook of his home.

After his kids and wife went to bed in late June, Romero would drink Bud Lights and gamble quarters on table tennis. He’d watch Russian and Eastern European football on his phone until dawn.

“I loved it. The underdog would win me $25 “Romero: “Amazing.


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Romero said he risked little more than $500 in two weeks of late-night pingpong betting. He bet nearly solely on underdogs and didn’t know their skill level.

His pingpong moonlighting was stopped by traditional sports and his wife’s complaints about him being up late.

Romero’s money doubled.

Bettors looked for alternatives when major sports leagues stopped. Some wager on Madden NFL simulators. NASCAR held virtual races, and sports betting businesses organized pop-up tennis tournaments. None of the pandemic’s new betting events had the staying power of table tennis.

Table tennis bets in Colorado sportsbooks totaled $8.8 million in March. That’s more than MMA and golf combined last month. Some foreign table tennis events are streamed live on DraftKings’ mobile betting app after midnight, when no U.S. sports are in action.

“I wouldn’t have predicted table tennis betting would be as popular as it is now, but it makes sense,” Robins said. “With point-by-point betting, it works wonderfully. And it’s not much. It can be $25 and fun. That’s how I think our product should be: affordable fun.”

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