Place Your Bets … It’s (Soon To Be) Legal!

The Supreme Court recently voted in favor of allowing states to legalize and regulate sports betting in the United States. Let’s take a look at what this all means to the average bettor.

End of an Error

I guess that headline should read “End of an Era” but the former is far more appropriate than the latter. On Monday, the United States Supreme Court demonstrated that laws should generally mirror the societal mores and attitudes of those who must abide them. And in keeping with that mandate, antiquated laws and prohibitions must be abolished, rendered obsolete, which is what happened on Monday when the SCOTUS ruled in favor of allowing states the freedom to legalize and regulate sports betting. It is a big victory for the millions who want to place a bet without the specter of legality hanging over their collective heads.

We can trace the beginning of the end of this antediluvian law, whose support had eroded to merely a whisper from the Bible Belters, to the 1990s when offshore shops started springing up in tropical destinations to accommodate the demand from a nation of first-world sports bettors eager to free themselves from the shackles of a third-world mentality. It became survival of the fittest as the best online sportsbooks thrived while the others would eventually succumb to a Darwinian end, via social media platforms and industry forums like Sportsbook Review where nefarious sites were soon outed and excoriated by the betting public.

However, the true impetus for this push arrived with the advent of fantasy sports. The millennials took to the role of general manager like Trump takes to a mirror or Hillary to a scapegoat. The best part of all of this was that their prescient opinions of all things sports wouldn’t be rewarded in the form of bragging rights but by cash prizes. Somehow, and in some way, betting on one’s own roster was copacetic but betting on the roster of players constructed by real general managers of actual sports franchises was tawdry.

The line was nuanced to be sure, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell welcomed this new breed of sports gambling yet vehemently disavowed the other. The hypocrisy was hysterically transparent because Goodell knew he could continue to rail against the perils of sports betting impugning the integrity of the league while at the same time enjoying the fruits of all that “dirty money” driving ratings through the roof because Joe Q. Public had a few bucks on the game. Goodell was entrenched in his opinion and his philosophy was no retreat no surrender because his ego wouldn’t allow it and the league was the beneficiary regardless. He could still revel in his role as lord protector and vigilant guardian of the sanctity of the NFL while reaping a $50 million payday, courtesy of the soaring popularity propelled in large part to the interest generated by the possibility of a quick return on investment on a Monday night or Sunday afternoon game. Goodell’s moral outrage juxtaposed against his millions derived from the fruit of the allegedly poisoned tree was farcical yet the charade continued … until now.

I will don my turban, fetch my crystal ball and peer into the near future. Goodell will soon appear at a press conference, shaking his head in disapproval but chivalrously ceding to the will of the great unwashed masses and their desire to wager on his hallowed slate of seasonal games.

Meanwhile, those who already enjoy wagering online and have refused to genuflect at the altar of Goodell will continue to do so at the offshore sites as the bureaucratic red tape will be long and deep before states begin offering sports betting. However, New Jersey governor Phil Murphy, who continued to spearhead this monumental and seismic shift in the sports betting landscape after Chris Christie left office, will make certain that the Garden State is ready to make book sooner than later. Regardless of whether or not you are a sports bettor, this is a victory because it removed an unnecessary manacle to our individual freedom and proved that speaking truth to power can be heard by some very powerful ears.

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