ESPN’s Chad Millman about the future of sports betting

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GamingToday asked ESPN’s Chad Millman about the future of sports betting, new betting technology and this year’s Super Bowl. Here’s an edited version of that interview.

 

I’ve done in-running twice – at last year’s Super Bowl and for last year’s NCAA tournament. Both times I had a blast. It was challenging, fast-paced and a good way to lay off pre-game decisions that clearly weren’t going to go my way. I haven’t tried the inside wagering, but I do like the idea behind it. Generally, I think the more progressive any book is as far as offering new products the better, and here’s why:

The latest generation of sports bettors is much more sophisticated than ever before. Online sports books are so commonplace that the line between squares and sharps is becoming very difficult to find. I regularly hear from bettors working in finance or accounting, or who are lawyers, who have spent a lot of time scraping stats and against-the-spread information from various websites and folding that info into spreadsheets.

They then build high-level, math-based formulas off of their analysis. When these guys go to Vegas they are not struggling to figure out where the advantage in the number is or what it means to play the moneyline. They do that everyday online. They come to Vegas for the experience, to play in the big theme park because they are tired of the rinky dink rides in their hometown. They get down a lot more money here than online and they are attracted to the live options of in-game and inside, which is something they are able to do at a few websites as well.

I think a lot of that attitude of today’s bettors plays into where the industry may be going in the future — which is eventually being legalized nationwide. The big test is the case New Jersey currently has against the Department of Justice to overturn the current federal ban on sports betting, which exempts Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon. If that suit is won, then the floodgates will open.

If not, then I think the struggle to legalize sports betting will continue, but will happen in bits and pieces. With nearly every other form of gambling legal in most states, and with growing budget deficits, practical legislators will have no choice but to ask, if everyone is betting on sports, why aren’t we profiting off of this in the same way we are with lotteries or casinos?

If they were to tax what’s going to be bet on this year’s SB alone they might be able to pay for health care. It’s the exact matchup bookmakers dream about: Two of the most public teams in which squares are going to have an opinion based solely on their fandom. Personally, I like the Packers.

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