Mark Madden: Legalized sports gambling won't change much
Legalized sports gambling will result in a lot of revenue.
It's already resulting in a lot of stupidity.
Often asked: “Now that betting on sports is legal everywhere, will Pete Rose get in the Baseball Hall of Fame?”
Uh, no. The Supreme Court is allowing states to legalize sports gambling. But MLB is not allowing those under its umbrella to bet on baseball. Rule 21 forbidding such has long been posted in every MLB clubhouse. It's kept better than Rose out of Cooperstown: Shoeless Joe Jackson, for one.
Jackson and seven others on the Chicago White Sox threw the 1919 World Series. Jackson has MLB's third-highest lifetime batting average ever at .356, but that doesn't matter.
The “Black Sox scandal” couldn't happen today, even more so now that legalized sports gambling is going nationwide.
If irregular betting patterns suggest a fix, legalized sports gambling provides a network that would spot it. Whistle-blowing is built in.
Pittsburgh will provide irregular betting patterns of a sort.
Every area bookie knows that everybody bets on the Steelers, so the foe often gets a few extra points by way of balancing the books via steering some wagers to the opposition.
The line isn't meant to predict a winner. It's meant to get equal bets on each side. The book profits via the 10 percent commission, or vig.
Will legal bookies do that locally? They had better.
The vig might be more with a legal local bookie, because gambling revenue will be taxed at a whopping rate of 36 percent. But that would be awful PR, and would chase a lot of action to the illegal books.
Illegal bookies will survive, by the way, because they let you bet on credit. (They also pay 600-1 on the Daily Number straight. The state only pays 500-1.)
Legalizing sports betting will make it an even bigger business than it is now. Conspiracy nuts will spot fixes everywhere, especially when they lose. But the chance of a score being finagled will be less than ever.
Will bettors gamble too much? Some will. But legalized gambling is more likely to get problem gamblers to seek help. The bookie at the bar doesn't care.
Big-time sports leagues reportedly want legal sportsbooks to pay an “integrity tax.” Tribute for existing to be bet on, is a better description. But Las Vegas has never paid that, so a precedent has been set.
Will bookmakers want betting windows placed in sports stadiums, as with English soccer? That's one way leagues could cash in.
Hockey could have to make an interesting adjustment when betting on sports is legalized nationwide.
Instead of concealing the severity of injuries, hockey might adopt the NFL's designations: Questionable, doubtful and out. The secrecy of “upper body,” “lower body,” “day-to-day” and “week-to-week” will be history. Hiding things from the opposition will pale next to an industry that rakes in billions.
Or it won't. The NHL might choose to remain petty and backward, which are too often league specialties.
Announcers might openly talk about point spreads instead of making veiled references. Brent Musburger was famous for those. Musburger is known to wager. He now lives in Las Vegas and hosts a radio/TV show on sports gambling. Musburger may be happier now than he was with CBS or ESPN.
But really, the widespread legalization of sports betting won't change much.
Gamblers will still bet on sports. But now, big business and the government get their cut. That may be the only significant tangible difference.
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).