SportsPulse: Supreme Court reporter Richard Wolf breaks down the SCOTUS ruling on sports betting in the United States, and what it could mean for the future of gambling in professional and college sports. USA TODAY Sports
It will take years before all the ramifications from the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on sports gambling are felt. Yet it’s clear that giving states the OK to legalize betting on sports will greatly alter the way the game is watched.
And even if teams stop short of placing betting kiosks in arenas and stadiums, the live, end-of-game experience will look and sound a lot different when potentially thousands of fans may have action riding on what were once the final, meaningless seconds or innings of a game.
Now, the closing moments of competition that used to only send sports-book denizens or corner bar degenerates into a frenzy could possibly stoke the passions of a live crowd.
You’ve seen it thousands of times – a margin of greater than six points, less than 30 seconds remaining, and a nod of concession from the losing team. The winning team is content to dribble out the shot or game clock as daps and hugs commence.
This moment of finality is usually greeted by tepid applause from the winning team’s fans. But in the Live Gambling Experience? It’s not hard to imagine a bevy of fans who need a seven-point game to turn to a nine-point game – or an over/under total to go just a basket higher – to implore their guys to please….just….throw…down….a meaningless dunk!
Pulling the goalie is already one of sport’s great thrills – an empty net! – and now that move will only be enhanced when a live betting audience has action on the game. While hockey wagering, like baseball, offers bets based largely on odds rather than spreads – an elite starting pitcher or hot goalie at home will make it riskier to turn a profit – there’s also the goal/run lines and, of course, the ever-present over/under.
For instance, in Tuesday night’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final, a $100 bet on the Capitals will pay a bettor $240 if they choose to “give” 1.5 goals.
So if it’s 3-2 Capitals, and Andrei Vasilevskiy scampers from the net to the Lightning bench, and you’re clutching tickets that will pay you hundreds of dollars if Washington wins by two and more than 5.5 goals are scored in the game, well, let’s just say you might be more invested in a puck finding that net than even the most diehard Caps fan savoring a 3-0 series lead.
The mop-up appearance
Like hockey, baseball is far from a clean sport on which to wager. The games are low-scoring, highly random and aren’t conducive to point spreads. So, run-line and over/under bets make for a more aesthetically pleasing wager.
And like all sports, there’s a certain evil genius to baseball handicappers who know how to set a run total. So if it’s an 8-1 game and the over/under is 9.5, then yes, your financial fate may be in the hands of the 13th pitcher on the staff or, heaven forbid, a position player.
We’ve learned in the past couple seasons that kneeling during the national anthem is almost a sure-fire way to hit the NFL unemployment line. We’ve long known that the decision on when to order your quarterback to kneel down and kill the clock can drive gamblers mad.
Nowadays, teams are much smarter about clock issues – math and analytics and all – but as any fan of Andy Reid-coached teams now, mistakes can be made. And as winning teams play out the last one to three minutes of a game, decisions in positive-yard territory can have crucial impacts on gamblers:
Try a long field goal? Or punt?
Jam it in from the 5-yard line? Or take a knee?
Such decisions not only affect the winning team but also the losing team’s ability to regain possession in hopes of a backdoor cover.
And the specter of a spread-killing moment in a legalized gambling atmosphere will surely cut down on fans trying to beat the traffic.
Game 2: Vegas Golden Knights left wing Tomas Tatar (90), playing his first game since May 2, celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal in a 3-1 victory against the Winnipeg Jets. Terrence Lee, USA TODAY Sports
Game 7: Winnipeg Jets defenseman Tyler Myers (57) is congratulated by defenseman Ben Chiarot (7) after a goal during the first period of a 5-1 win over the Nashville Predators. Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports
Game 6: Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, right, and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby meet in the handshake line after the Capitals knocked off the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions. Charles LeClaire, USA TODAY Sports
Game 6: Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury reaches for the puck before San Jose Sharks right wing Kevin Labanc can get to it. Fleury made 28 saves for his fourth shutout of the playoffs. Stan Szeto, USA TODAY Sports
Game 5: Winnipeg Jets forward Mathieu Perreault (85) celebrates after scoring past Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) during the third period of a 6-2 win. Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports
Game 3: Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy and center Steven Stamkos lie on top of Boston Bruins center David Krejci while protecting the goal during the third period of Tampa’s 4-1 win. Winslow Townson, USA TODAY Sports
Game 2: James Shaw Jr., the hero in the recent Waffle House shooting in Tennessee, sits in the stands after being introduced during the first period in the Nashville Predators’ game against the Winnipeg Jets. Shelley Mays, The (Nashville) Tennessean
Game 1: Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm (14) reacts after a goal by Winnipeg Jets center Paul Stastny (second from left) during the second period of a 4-1 loss. Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports
Game 1: Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin (8) kneels on the ice after missing a shot on Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray (30) in the first period of a 3-2 loss. Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports
Game 7: Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak (88) celebrates with defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) after scoring a goal during the third period of a 7-4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Greg M. Cooper, USA TODAY Sports
Game 6: Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (two goals) and Braden Holtby (35 saves) greet Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky in he handshake line after the Capitals’ clinching 6-3 win in Game 6. Russell LaBounty, USA TODAY Sports
Game 6: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Andrew Hammond, who dominated the Nashville Predators in Game 5, looked human in a 5-0 loss that sent Nashville to the second round. Isaiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports
Game 5: Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog (92) celebrates after scoring a goal to tie the game during the third period of a 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators. Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports
Game 4: Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov looks up after he’s knocked to the ice in the third period. Kucherov earlier had knocked Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen out of the game with a hard hit. Bruce Bennett, Getty Images
Game 4: Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott and defenseman Brandon Manning can’t stop a Pittsburgh Penguins goal in the first period. Elliott was pulled after giving up three goals on 17 shots. Eric Hartline, USA TODAY Sports
Game 4: Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck, who named a Vezina Trophy finalist earlier in the day, makes one of his 30 saves in a 2-0 victory against the Minnesota Wild. Brad Rempel, USA TODAY Sports
Game 3: New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider, back, was named No. 2 star in a 5-2 victory against Tampa Bay Lightning. Getting his first start of the playoffs, he made 34 saves for his first win since Dec. 27. Ed Mulholland, USA TODAY Sports
Game 2: Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby skates away as Columbus Blue Jackets players congratulate overtime goal scorer Matt Calvert. The Blue Jackets lead the series 2-0. Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports
Game 2: Nashville Predators left wing Viktor Arvidsson leaps as he screens Colorado Avalanche goalie Jonathan Bernier during the third period. The Predators won 5-4. Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports
Game 2: Vegas Golden Knights forward Erik Haula (56) scores the winner in double overtime against the Los Angeles Kings – the first overtime playoff win in Golden Knights history. Stephen R. Sylvanie, USA TODAY Sports
Game 1: Nashville Predators forward Craig Smith (15) celebrates with Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg (9) after a goal during the second period of a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche. Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports
Game 1: The Vegas Golden Knights celebrate with goalie Marc-Andre Fleury following their 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings, their first playoff win in team history. Stephen R. Sylvanie, USA TODAY Sports