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How Betting Will Change the Sports Media Business

May 16,2018 02:11

The sports television industry is struggling. There is an onslaught of competition from streaming services, video games, social networks and mobile phones. Fans can't see the vast majority of games without an expensive cable subscription, and millions ...


While some expansion of sports betting will happen soon — New Jersey, the state at the center of the Supreme Court case, could be ready to take bets in weeks, and a handful of other states have recently passed sports betting laws — a full build-out won’t be immediate. Betting could eventually be legal nationwide, but there is a legal morass to navigate before that happens.
Both the N.B.A. and N.F.L. have called upon Congress to pass federal legislation to regulate sports betting, rather than having a patchwork of 50 state laws, and Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah has said he intends to do so. Sports leagues, unions representing players, casino companies and Native American tribes are jockeying to shape the laws that will regulate sports betting to make sure they get a big cut of the action.
After Monday’s ruling, the major sport leagues were careful to focus on the need for consistent regulation and measures to maintain the integrity of their competition, rather than any potential windfalls from increased interest and sponsorships.
“Congress has long recognized the potential harms posed by sports betting to the integrity of sporting contests and the public confidence in these events,” the N.F.L. said in a statement released Monday. “Given that history, we intend to call on Congress again, this time to enact a core regulatory framework for legalized sports betting.”
Beyond the impact on media rights, the court ruling is poised to change everything about the way Americans consume sports. Imagine betting windows inside of stadiums; casino advertisements everywhere the eye can see, as they are in Britain’s soccer stadiums; in-game betting on your phone while sitting inside an arena (or while sitting at dinner with your family); and a crop of new shows on ESPN and other sports networks dedicated to betting lines.
Daily fantasy has always been a hair’s width away from sports betting, and the companies involved have a couple of big advantages in becoming bookmakers. The two largest of the daily fantasy companies, DraftKings and FanDuel, announced on Monday they intend to do. DraftKings says it has 10 million registered users, while FanDuel has 6 million, all with credit card numbers already on file. Both companies say they hope to be up and running when the N.F.L. season starts in September.
If they can follow-through on that commitment, it may give the N.F.L. a better chance of reversing two years of declining television ratings than any marketing campaign that emerges from the league’s Park Avenue headquarters.

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