Aug 16, 2021 - Sports

The sports betting tsunami

$100 bills.

Shoshana Gordon/Axios

As sports betting emerges from the shadows and steps into the light, it's seeping into every aspect of fandom.

The state of play: How fans watch games, where fans watch games, how media covers those games — it's all being transformed quite rapidly.

  • On the stadium: For the next 20 years, the Superdome — a New Orleans landmark and one of America's most iconic buildings — will be named after Caesars Entertainment. Similar deals will likely follow.
  • In the stadium: North America's first in-arena sportsbook opened in Washington, D.C., in May, and at least three more are coming soon to Chicago and Phoenix. Whether on your phone or at a kiosk, betting at the game will eventually be commonplace — like it is in England.
  • On the broadcast: Millions of fans watch their teams on Bally's Sports (formerly Fox Sports regional networks), which is directly integrated with sports betting operator Bally's Corporation. Meanwhile, MLB is partnering with DraftKings on betting-themed broadcasts and fans can even stream MLB games in the DraftKings app.
  • During commercials: YouTube may have banned sports betting ads, but the NFL is leaning in this season, allowing networks to sell six ad spots per game to sportsbooks. It won't be as overwhelming as the DraftKings/FanDuel barrage in the early days of daily fantasy, but expect a healthy dose of ads like this Jamie Foxx-BetMGM spot.
  • In the media: ESPN, Fox and other major networks have deals with betting operators, and publications are increasingly promoting sportsbooks through affiliate links. Longtime reporters are leaving traditional journalism for jobs at sports betting sites or sportsbooks themselves. Even the Associated Press has a deal with FanDuel to exclusively reference their betting odds.

Consider this: James is a sports fan living in Phoenix. Here's a potential fall Sunday for him in the not-so-distant future...

On his way to the Cardinals game, he listens to his favorite podcast, "The Dan Le Batard Show," which is distributed by DraftKings. Once inside the stadium, he skips the beer line for the BetMGM sportsbook, which also conveniently serves beer.
That night, he catches the end of the Suns game on TNT, which is interrupted so Charles Barkley can promote FanDuel, which has a deal with Turner. Then James switches over to Bally Sports Arizona, a network named after a casino company.

Go deeper: How sports gambling swallowed sports media (Columbia Journalism Review)

Go deeper