It’s never been hard to wager on sports in America.
Everyone has a bookie. Or knows a guy who has a guy. Or uses an app to get their wagers in.
The difference now that the Supreme Court has opened the door for state-sanctioned sports betting is that all of those wagers will, in theory, be done legally.
Now, frankly, I don’t know how much this is actually going to change. The people that are really into gambling are already finding ways to do it. The money is going to end up in a different place — just a thought, but state-sanctioned gambling would be a nice way to bump up teacher salaries or fix all the potholes on the Garden State Parkway — but it will be interesting to see just how much more money is wagered overall if it does become legal in all 50 states.
I’ll leave the in-depth analysis of the law itself to legal experts and people that have actually been to Las Vegas.
But what I will say is this: I think that overall, this is going to be a good thing for college basketball, even if it makes the sport more March-centric than it already is.
The truth is that there really is no sporting event on the planet, including the Super Bowl, that is better set up for gambling that the NCAA tournament, and there is no better appetizer for the NCAA tournament than Championship Week. It’s wall-to-wall basketball for three consecutive weekends, with plenty of mid-week, mid-day games to put a little money on. It goes so far beyond the bracket pools, and everyone is already filling out a bracket. The attention on the sport is only going to increase and more and more people decide they’re going to put $20 on a lunch time game and then bet $20 more that evening to try and get their money back when they lose.
And it’s like that for more than a month, starting right at the end of football season and right before the NBA postseason kicks into gear.
And being legally allowed to wager money on those games is only going to get more people drawn in.
The question of whether or not that is good for college basketball as a whole, however, likely depends on whether you think it’s healthy for college basketball to be a one month sport. That’s a different column for a different day.
Today, I think it’s pretty clear: Legal gambling is going to be a net positive for college hoops.