NBA commissioner Adam Silver is advocating for the nationwide legalization of sports betting on professional sports.
“It’s time for Sports betting to be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored,” Silver wrote in a recent New York Times opinion piece.
An estimated $400 billion is wagered on sports each year, without national oversight to ensure fairness.
Because of federal law, only four states are permitted to allow sports betting, and Nevada is the only state where such bets don’t have to be played as a combination of games -- called a parlay in the betting world.
If Silver’s proposition comes true, and Congress overturns the federal ban on sports wagering expansion, would we see the state of Georgia add sports books as an industry?
State legislator Bubber Epps, who heads up the local delegation, says not to bet on it.
“There has been no conversation regarding a bill to legalize sports betting in Georgia, and if it is put up for a vote, I think it would face an uphill battle,” Epps said.
Atlanta-area representative Harry Geisinger plans to offer another bill during the upcoming session to legalize horse racing in Georgia, but horse racing bills never have made it out of the rules committee, the step needed to reach the floor for a vote.
On a recent trip to Las Vegas, I visited several sports books. If Georgia ever needed a model, I would recommend Bally’s as a good place to start.
The sports book at Bally’s features four huge television monitors to show games, plus individual monitors to view select events.
Four rows of 18 monitors each feature horse races. Bally’s takes wagers for approximately 30 horse racing tracks around the country. The next five rows are for viewing hockey, baseball, basketball, football, UFC and whatever other events that might be taking place.
According to an official I spoke with at Bally’s, pro football brings in the most action in terms of betting handle. You can bet on just about any aspect of the game. Take the Dec. 11 contest between St. Louis and Arizona, where the Rams were a 3½-point favorite. (The Cardinals won 12-6). You could wager on the game, total points (the over/under was 40½) or the first half (over/under 20), the total completions by Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton (19½) or by Rams quarterback Shaun Hall (19).
There were opportunities to bet on the first team to score, whether the first score will be a touchdown, field goal or safety, the highest scoring quarter, the player to score the first touchdown and which team will make the longest field goal. You can even bet on who will win the coin toss.
There is a pro sports futures category which features odds on who will win championships. When the NBA odds came out, the Miami Heat opened at 2-to-1. That was before LeBron James made his decision to return to Cleveland. Now that he is with the Cavaliers, the Miami odds are 50-to-1. If you are a Hawks fan, the odds of a championship are 65-to-1.
In the NFL, the Falcons opened at 20-to-1 to win the Super Bowl, and now they are 75-to-1. Denver was listed as the favorite at 7-to-2.
The Los Angeles Dodgers were the odds-on favorite to win the 2015 World Series at 6-to-1, while the Braves are listed at 25-to-1. These were the odds Dec. 11, and I am sure they have changed since then.
You can also bet on individual sports. Rory McIlroy is a 5-to-1 favorite to take golf’s 2015 FedEx Cup Championship. Macon’s Russell Henley is listed at 125-to-1. Tennis star Novak Djokovic is a 3-to-2 favorite to win the Australian Open in January.
Every college football bowl game is currently listed, including several with names that I was unaware of like the Foster Farms, the Quick Lane and the Bahama bowls.
The oddsmakers don’t give the No. 3 and 4 teams much of a chance in the first college football playoffs. No. 2 Oregon, as of Dec. 11 was a nine-point favorite over No. 3 Florida State, and No. 1 Alabama was a 9½-point choice over Ohio State.
While Silver is a proponent of legalization of professional sports betting, the NHL, NFL and Major League Baseball have expressed their opposition, and I can’t imagine that the NCAA would ever support such a measure for amateur sports.
Incidentally, all odds at Bally’s are posted in the Christmas colors of red, gold and green, which reminds me to wish you a merry one.
Contact Bobby Pope at firstname.lastname@example.org