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The Possible Impacts of legalized wagering

Sports betting is about to become even more mainstream

March Madness Viewing Party At The Westgate Las Vegas Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Good morning. I can think of few people who are more happy this week than Brent Musburger and Al Michaels. For years, sports commentators treated in-game gambling references like the Taliban treats, well, just about everything. Michaels and Musburger were the only two guys who enjoyed weaving the betting aspect of a particular game into their telecasts. Well this week gambling became much more mainstream, as the US Supreme Court struck down a 26 year-old law that banned sports betting. Hallelujah.

Drilling down further, what impact could this have on college athletics, the Pac-12 and WSU? Well, let’s just say there’s a lot more money to be made, and we all know WSU is a bit lacking when it comes to revenue. The first major impact could be in terms of eyeballs, which are critical when it comes to rights deals.

This could actually mean those #Pac12AfterDark games finally become an advantage for the conference! After a full day of losing, those games present the last chance to win it all back for the day. There is no doubt that people who otherwise may have a passing interest in Pac-12 football will find themselves tuning in a lot more.

Taking this to the Nth degree, can you imagine a world in which live betting is allowed inside the stadium? Sure, the wifi and cellular networks would require a lot more bandwidth, but imagine the possibility of, say, Northern Quest Casino providing an app that lets fans in attendance (or anywhere for that matter) place in-game wagers. Hell, maybe a place like Northern Quest can put its name on Martin Stadium for a handsome fee.

The conference could also take it upon itself, and inject a gambling section into its Pac-12 app. Pregame lines, halftime lines, first half over/unders, prop bets, the possibilities are endless! Of course, Larry and the gang would probably take all of the profits and hire a bunch more grossly-overpaid do-nothing executives. He seems quite adept at that.

Jon Wilner wrote about the possibilities as well, and consulted sports law analytics expert Ryan Rodenburg. Rodenburg had several thoughts.

Imagine each conference collecting one percent of the total handle (the so-called integrity fee) on football games in states throughout its footprint...According to Rodenburg, New Jersey estimated the annual handle on sports wagers could be $10 million. California would dwarf that.

Let’s assume that California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona and Colorado eventually legalize sports wagering - let’s keep Utah out of the discussion for now - and that the annual handle (the amount wagered) across the Pac-12 footprint is $50 billion. Then let’s estimate 20 percent of that total is bet on college sports: $10 billion per year.

Finally, let’s imagine the Pac-12...were to cut integrity fee deals comparable to those of the NBA, MLB and NFL. That translates to $100 million annually for the conference. And it could be larger.

The possibilities are endless, and any additional revenue stream that comes available to WSU Athletics is essential to their longterm success. Let’s hope legal wagering in Washington, and throughout the country, comes to pass sooner than later.

Mike Leach

Must have been a slow news week in Spokane, as many words were spent trying to figure out what Mike Leach is doing in Southeast Asia. I’d be able to follow the coach’s voyage via Twitter, but apparently he blocked me at some point for reasons I will never know (I had one interaction with him ever on Twitter, and it was quite positive).

Shawn Vestal: The Mikes do Southeast Asia, one tweet at a time | The Spokesman-Review
The senator – Michael Baumgartner – and the football coach – Mike Leach – are traveling Southeast Asia, meeting and greeting and tweeting.

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