The Bet

In March, I heard a sports talk show host criticize women’s basketball.  He said NCAA I women’s basketball will never climb to the popularity of men’s NCAA I basketball.  His host disagreed.  He said the only thing the women’s game lacked is you couldn’t go to Las Vegas and bet on the games.

Now, a few of the women’s game can be found on the Las Vegas betting boards, but not many. However, betting on sporting events is about to explode in most of the United States.  The reason on what happened on May 14th when the Supreme Court overturned PASPA.

I am personally very fond of acronyms.  PASPA stands for Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. Just to give you a little history, in 1992, Congress passed PASPA into law.  At that time, the law grandfathered in four states that already had some form of sports betting.

A great trivia question would be to name the four states.  Of course, everyone knows about Nevada with Las Vegas as the hub.  However, Montana, Delaware and Oregon had some form of legalized sports betting, just not to the extent of Nevada.

If you are any kind of sports fan, you know that every type of sporting event has odds assigned to it by Las Vegas handicappers.  Did you know that Instilled Regard was a horse that ran in the Kentucky Derby?  If you had put $100 to win and Instilled Regard had pulled off the greatest horse racing upset of all-time, you would go home with almost $10,000.  The odds of Instilled Regard winning were 99-1.  Justify, the triple crown winner, would have gotten you $300 for that bet.  It went off at 3-1.

Horse racing is different than football. You can bet on horse racing in almost any state.  Unless you tried your hand at off-shore betting, there were only two places you could place a bet on the Missouri – University of Tennessee Martin game.  You could fly to Las Vegas or visit your neighborhood bookie.  If you tried the later, I hope you don’t get busted.

I am wrong to say you would have to fly to Las Vegas.  Missouri is favored by 35 points.  That’s a point spread stated as a -35 or you are giving 35 points to UT Martin.  You could put a nice bet on your friendly Tigers in Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi and West Virginia.  Those states saw the Supreme Court ruling coming and had legislation ready to pass. By the end of August, those states had legalized sports gambling.

What if your neighborhood sports bookie had retired and you wanted to make a nice wager on Nebraska, who has to give 26 points to visiting Akron Saturday night.  Next year, you could cross the river and make those bets in casinos in Iowa, Kansas or Missouri.  Not this year, though.

It will be hard to find anyone who will take a bet on the lowly Kansas Jayhawks, who are eight-point favorites against lower division, Nichols State but not because we don’t have sports betting nearby.  Missouri has a bill in committee, but it didn’t get to a vote in 2018.  Kansas and Iowa have it through committee, but hasn’t had a vote taken.  Most people are betting, although I don’t know the odds, that all three of those states will have sports gambling in 2019.

That brings us to Nebraska.  Whether you think it is right or wrong, Nebraska has never approved of casino gambling. Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and South Dakota are certainly willing to take a Cornhusker’s money and they do.

Nebraska may seem like a long shot to legislate sports gambling, even though it would mean millions of dollars generated into the state’s revenue. However, there is hope.  One state has no hope.  Utah has legislation to ensure it will never host gambling of any kind.

Then there are professional sports. Basketball kind-of likes the idea of betting on their games.  They feel it will add to the popularity of the sport.  Don’t be surprised if you will someday be able to go into an arena and bet on your favorite team before you take your seats. You might be able to bet on any sports right from your cell phone.

The NFL has a different sort of attitude toward sports betting.  They absolutely don’t want betting legalized on their sport.  However, if they can’t stop it, they propose the states fork over 1% of their profits as an “integrity fee.”  I’m trying not to smile.

I coached my last game in March of 2012. Just before the start of the NCAA I men’s basketball tournament, I flew to Las Vegas to place a few bets.  It was on my bucket list.  I had a blast and would like to tell you with my superior knowledge of the sport, I cleaned out all the betting rooms.

You might remember that was the year Missouri came into the tournament the Big 12 Tournament Champion and seeded second.  They played lowly Norfolk State, who was a 21.5 points underdog as the 15th seed.  All the betting experts said bet Missouri and give the 21.5 points.

You also might remember that Norfolk State not only got under the 21. 5 points but beat Missouri 86 – 84.  I had a nice wad of money on Missouri and certainly didn’t clean out the betting rooms with my superior knowledge.

I anxiously awaiting a state close by to pass legislation, but only for the fun of it. If I clean out any betting rooms, it’ll be with a broom, so I can earn a little money to put it on the Missouri – Alabama game.  I’ll probably bet the home team.