Top Four Predictions that Will NOT Happen Involving US Sports Wagering in 2021
- Four prognostications I hope to wrong about for the benefit of all US sports bettors
- Thankfully, no opportunity to wager upon a Presidential election anytime in 2021
- Will every player learn to “bettor themselves” by joining more than one sportsbook?
I hate to be a grinch here in being negative predicting what will NOT happen to make a life for sports bettors that much well, “better” in the US during 2021. Let us just say daring to be different or simply put, with experience warning those who wager on sports not to be disappointed.
#1 The National Football League (NFL) Still Will Not Officially Endorse US Legalized Sports Wagering
Yes, this is confusing since it seems every week brings a new announcement of an NFL team proudly stating they have joined forces with either DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, or other major sportsbook operators vying for publicity and sign-ups within that team’s market.
Whether it be the Broncos, Steelers, or Eagles, the press release reads a similar script. Each team promises lucrative bonuses for new players, key identification within the home stadium plus significant radio and TV coverage to make sure all know they are “the official sportsbook of the home team”.
What is traditionally missing is unlike the NBA, NHL, and Major League Baseball, the NFL office, and specifically NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell have not officially come out and ever-blessed legalized wagering on NFL football, period.
Perhaps, this is because it was the NFL that for years was the primary force “prohibiting” the legalization of US legalized wagering and the repeal of PASPA (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act). It was through the power of the NFL’s lobbyist and political force that enabled sports wagering to remain locked for decades. Most notably in the past five years within the US Federal Courts, before PASPA was judicially repealed by the US Supreme Court on May 14, 2018.
Now that sports wagering is enjoying rapid success within the US, could they (Commissioner Goodell) still be embarrassed and sensitive to this plight and not want to admit defeat?
In 2021 do not look for the NFL and Commissioner Goodell to hold any press conferences announcing they embrace or endorse US sports wagering and are working with teams to enhance its potential. Along with President Trump denying defeat, this denial continues.
#2 US Sportsbooks Will Not Legally Venture Outside of Offering Wagering on Sports
A great deal of jealousy and attention focused upon the opportunity to create revenue for wagering on political elections over this past year. It was an unusual situation stirred by the most controversial and hotly contested US Presidential election in history.
Reports from illegal offshore sportsbooks crowed how they were measuring handle exceeding NCAA and NFL football at peak time. More difficult was the resulting victory for President-elect Biden creating a huge win and profit for many books as well. Prop wagering was available akin to college bowl games on election night. In all, it seemed like a Super Bowl opportunity missed if there was a “legal” opportunity to be involved.
That is the key. To make this happen and other potential bets that fall outside the legal definition of “sport” within each state will take new and likely very contested laws to pass. It will also involve the important and often used legal judgment of a game of skill vs a game of chance.
We may see these US state laws change someday to allow wagering on political elections and other events (ex: Academy Awards) but certainly not in 2021 or likely 2022 as well.
#3 Florida, Unfortunately, Will Not Have Legalized Wagering in 2021
Yes, I realize this is no bold prediction. But mark this one with an asterisk* as I envision the Sunshine State with realistic potential for legalized sports wagering in 2022.
With its huge population base, love for sports and sports wagering plus mega-opportunity to earn necessary tax dollars for a state that could sorely utilize it, the wait for legalized sports betting in Florida has gone on way too long.
The obvious roadblock is Florida is ruled by two giant forces that control the legislature for all-gaming entities. The Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Walt Disney Corporation. Together they are a force that rules beyond Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ domain in setting policy involving all issues that include gaming in the state.
Together, their opposition has finitely shut-down any past or current opportunity for sports wagering and certainly online wagering. However, a potential break in the cloud of frustration for hungry legal sports wagering starved bettors may have come recently.
At its annual investor day conference last week, Disney highlighted their ESPN brand’s recent partnership with Caesars Entertainment that integrates ESPN’s sports coverage into Caesars’ sports betting platform, and it said that it would be doubling down on that effort for its ESPN+ platform to create a hub for fantasy sports and other sports betting to broaden the channel’s appeal.
This major change in philosophy could potentially open the door on the Disney side to how they feel about gambling in general.
As for the Seminole Tribe’s side, in an effort to lift focus upon both sports betting and internet gaming on both a national and international scale, Hard Rock International announced Hard Rock Digital. An exclusive Hard Rock and Seminole Gaming (SGA) “vehicle for interactive gaming and sports betting, globally”. A new platform that will leverage HRI and SGA’s database of more than 130 million customers and 250 land-based venues across 76 countries.
It would be difficult to imagine Florida not being a major anchor opportunity as part of that effort since Hard Rock is headquartered there along with their partnership association with the Seminole Tribe.
No, it is NOT expected that Florida will have legalized sports wagering in 2021. But all in the Sunshine State can have their fingers crossed for excellent potential in 2022.
#4 US Sports Bettors Will Not Learn to Sign-up and Join More Than One Sportsbook
I write this prediction with more sadness and frustration I will again be proven to be right.
As proven by research thus far, US bettors have been reluctant taking advantage of many excellent no-risk opportunities to join more than one sportsbook within their newly legalized state.
All within the increasing list of top sportsbook operators offer generous bonus opportunities, contests, incentives to join and other win-win reasons to absolutely include “more than one” sportsbook app within a personal page to call upon.
Within the top sportsbooks including DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel, BetMGM, BetRivers, and several other noted brands, there simply is no excuse to remain loyal to a sole source. Here is a sample scenario:
As an experienced bettor, have you ever gone to sleep late angry and mad at yourself on a Monday evening after losing a Monday Night Football game by a half-point? That empty feeling might have been eliminated by retaining a source of THREE sportsbooks to shop odds on your selection.
Take that scenario and multiply it by a habitual habit of shopping every wager contemplated and surprisingly a bettor will find they will accumulate not only extra financial success but pride in themselves for doing the work necessary to be successful.
As contrast, European bettors have been found to be much more active and willing to join multiple sportsbooks and shop several sources before wagering. Perhaps it is because they have more experience, and it has taken extra years of time for them to learn their lessons.
There is no financial investment risk toward joining more than one sportsbook within a state in the US. Here is hoping research data late in 2021 proves I am wrong in this prediction. Till then, any bettor that suffers an unnecessary half-point defeat or empty push must face themselves in the mirror to blame.
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Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
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