Sportscaster Scott Van Pelt brought sports gambling to the forefront of the midnight edition of ESPN’s SportsCenter. Now he’ll try to project the future of sports betting at this year’s Sports Betting Symposium of the Global Gaming Expo (G2E), set for Oct. 8-11. in Las Vegas, NV.
Joining Van Pelt as a keynote speaker at this year’s symposium is American Gaming Association’s (AGA’s) Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Sara Slane. She and Van Pelt continue the wider conversation on sports betting in a talk called “The Future of Legalized, Regulated Sports Betting in the U.S.”
This interview will focus on the implications of sports betting on sports leagues, the media, and the gaming industry at large. Slane has been pushing for legalized sports betting and worked to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) back in May.
Now, in the wake of that decision, states are beginning to legalize sports betting and create legislation to regulate that industry.
Slane said this in a statement provided by the AGA:
“From the start, Scott Van Pelt was one of the first to give attention to the potential benefits of a legal, regulated sports betting market in the United States. Now that more jurisdictions across the country have begun offering sports betting, there could be no better time to hear his insight on the evolving state of play and the overarching benefits from this new sector of the American gaming industry.”
Van Pelt’s storied relationship with sports betting
When Van Pelt introduced his segment, “Bad Beats,” it quickly showcased that attitudes about sports betting were changing, reported the Washington Post.
This segment, part of Van Pelt’s midnight edition of SportsCenter on ESPN, became the show’s most popular one. Van Pelt told the Post that he tried to provide an honest look at how late scores negatively affected gamblers.
Now that the federal ban on sports betting is gone, the media’s tone on the subject can lighten up as well, instead of remaining a taboo topic. What that will look like is still unclear to Van Pelt.
“I think it’s trickier than just saying, ‘We’ll do gambling talk.’ All right, what’s that look like? That’s the part I wrestle with,” Van Pelt told the Washington Post. “But the content itself will include an acknowledgment of the spread where, in the past, that was kind of the third rail.”
Sports betting is a hot topic on sportscasts
One thing Van Pelt seems sure of: Whether or not Fox Sports 1, NBC Sports, CBS Sports, or any sportscast decides to pepper in some sports betting talk into their broadcasts, they will need to do it well.
“’Gambling Twitter’ is the most pissed off Twitter of Twitter. Everyone thinks you’re going to try to sell picks, and anybody who tries to sell picks is a fraud and a charlatan and a crook, so it can’t turn into that because people push back against that,” Van Pelt said in a podcast to Sports Illustrated.
In the past, programming had to be covert about gambling operations. Now it can be more overt, he said, and they can reveal numbers. Even so, the NFL may be slow to embrace that.
Van Pelt told Sports Illustrated that broadcasts will use the content because it’s legal and because sportscasters need to fill their broadcasts, but that will also mean that the negative perspectives will come with the good.
The good and bad of sports betting
As an example, Van Pelt compared alcohol to gambling, saying that overdoing it in any form can be bad, but it’s entertainment. And, for his sake, Bad Beats serves to, if anything, show what happens when you lose.
“The process of putting out picks and documenting picks, if you’ve watched it sort of recreationally and you think, ‘Oh well, now I’m going to bet and I’ll probably win because I have analytics and this and that’ — No, you’re going to get crushed. Just understand that. Know that’s the game. It’s entertainment. What are you willing to pay? And as long you get that that’s what it is, then please come jump in the pool. But if you have some wild pipe dream that you’re going to get rich, you’re going to retire, you’re going to buy a fishing boat, no, you’re not.”
In the meantime, others are jumping on the sports betting wagon to prepare for the industry:
- FanDuel is partnering with TVG to produce sports betting shows
- MGM and GVC are teaming up for a joint sports betting venture in the U.S.
- Lawmakers in Ohio are pushing for legalizing sports betting with two identical bills
- Dover Downs and Twin River will combine companies to scale and create sports betting opportunities
- NCAA will study the impacts of sports wagering on college athletics