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Opinion: Betting Could Change How We Watch Sports

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Copyright 2018 Boston Herald Inc.
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The Boston Herald

 

Imagine every Game 4 packing the emotion of a Game 7.

Each swing of the bat generating the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

Or that Week 4 matchup against Miami carrying all the thrill and angst of a Super Bowl.

Thanks to the Supreme Court decision that opened the door for legalized sports betting across the United States, it's all going to be very real very soon.

How soon? The first legal sports book in the United States outside Nevada was set to open on Memorial Day at Monmouth Park in New Jersey before politicians pushed it back until June 7.

"I think everyone who owns a top-four professional sports team just basically saw the value of their team double," Mark Cuban said on CNBC after the court's ruling.

Big-time pro and college sports are on board — whether they say so or not.

Legalized sports betting has been a dream since I first slipped into Wonderland Park at age 15 to wager on which malnourished and juiced greyhound would outlast the others.

It has never been easier to gamble — legally or otherwise. Whatever effect the internet has had on media, communications and commerce, just multiply that by a billion and you'll get an idea of how it has impacted pornography and gambling.

We'll keep our hands off the porn. All of the gambling that will be legal in a state near you already exists either inside Nevada or online. Plenty of gamblers/degenerates/investors bet on everything using servers located in foreign lands.

Still, the legal sanction of sports betting by the government and leagues themselves is a game-changer along the lines of television, free agency and the internet. Every bad call will trigger demands of a Robert Mueller-sized investigation. Every missed free throw will trigger cries of point-shaving. And you don't want to be Terry Rozier after he dribbles out the clock when the Celtics are up seven and the line is Boston -7.5.

The hypocrisy will remain. Baseball will embrace a windfall thanks to legal sports betting but won't allow Pete Rose into the Hall of Fame. Still, Tom Yawkey's spot remains secure. It seems the only things that can keep you out of Cooperstown are gambling or voting for Donald Trump.

Fantasy sports entities like DraftKings have created a technological infrastructure for legal sports betting. The economic impact in the U.S. could surpass $6.3 billion annually, says Forbes. With so much cash up for grabs, it is impossible to overstate how it will change the way the American public consumes sports.

Before the Celtics stumbled into the fourth quarter Saturday, we opted to catch the royal wedding recap on TLC. It turns out Serena Williams wore it best, while Victoria Beckham was dressed for a funeral. My lesser half would have continued to watch basketball had I wagered on the second-half line or Jayson Tatum's point total.

Each state is free do its own thing. In Massachusetts, that means an inevitable morass of political bickering, truckloads of "campaign contributions" and the creation of a state commission stacked with flunkies, hacks and cronies.

When I was a boy in East Cambridge, the neighborhood bookie worked out of a variety store. Fast-forward a half-century and you may soon be able to visit your local Cumby's, grab the Herald, prepare your 99-cent coffee your way and lay $10 on the over when David Price makes his next cold-weather start.

The more things change, the more they don't.

Bet on it.

Bill Speros (aka Obnoxious Boston Fan) can be reached at bsperos1@gmail.com and tweets @RealOBF.

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MUST-SEE TV? The spread of sports betting beyond Las Vegas, right, could keep viewers glued to blowouts such as Saturday's Eastern Conference Finals Game 3 between the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers, below.
staff photo by CHRISTOPHER EVANS, BELOW; AP PHOTO, RIGHT
 
May 21, 2018
 
 
 

 

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