May 15, 2023

👋 Good morning! Thanks for letting me guide you through this past weekend in sports. Kendall will be back in the captain's seat tomorrow.

Today's word count: 1,922 words (7 minutes)

Let's sports...

1 big thing: 💵 Five years later

Data: Legal Sports Report; Table: Axios Visuals

Five years ago Sunday, the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, launching what has become a massive legal sports betting industry.

State of play: Since PASPA's repeal, Americans have legally wagered over $220 billion* on sports, generating over $17 billion in revenue for sportsbooks and $3 billion in state and local taxes.

  • 33 states (plus Washington, D.C.) have live, legal markets, four states have legalized betting but not yet begun operations, and another six have active legislation or ballot initiatives.
  • Every major league has official betting partners, 11 different pro stadiums have or are planning in-venue sportsbooks, and TV broadcasts are littered with ads.

Between the lines: There are dozens of sportsbook operators. But in the 12-month period ending February 2023, four accounted for nearly 90% of the U.S. market, per gambling analytics firm Eilers & Krejcik.

  • FanDuel: 46%
  • DraftKings: 25%
  • BetMGM: 12%
  • Caesars: 6.7%

The big picture: A brief snapshot of the industry's explosive growth…

  • May 2018-April 2019: $8.3 billion wagered, 8 new markets launched
  • May 2019-April 2020: $13.7 billion, 9 new markets
  • May 2020-April 2021: $34 billion, 5 new markets
  • May 2021-April 2022: $74.2 billion, 9 new markets
  • May 2022-April 2023: $90.4 billion, 3 new markets

What to watch: The three most populous states in the nation — California, Texas and Florida — still don't have legal sports betting markets.

  • That should change at some point, given those three states are home to 32 of the 124 (26%) teams in the major North American leagues.
  • Yes, but: It could be a while. Texas has a pair of active bills, but little support in the state Senate; California saw a pair of costly propositions fail last fall; Florida is engaged in legal battles with the Seminole tribe, which claims to have exclusive rights to gaming in the state.

The bottom line: Five years ago, sports betting was limited largely to Las Vegas. Now, over half of American adults live in a state where they can bet legally — often from the comfort of their couch.

P.S. ... Sports merchandise giant Fanatics has agreed to acquire the U.S. operations of PointsBet — an Australian-based online sportsbook operator — in a $150 million deal announced Sunday night.

*Most states have only reported numbers through March, and five states — New Mexico, Washington, North Dakota, Wisconsin and North Carolina — do not make those numbers publicly available.

2. 🏀 Celts advance behind Tatum's record night

Photo: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Jayson Tatum erupted for a Game 7-record 51 points in Sunday's 112-88 rout of the 76ers, sending the Celtics to their fifth Eastern Conference finals in the past seven years.

By the numbers: Tatum shot a blistering 17-28 from the field (61%), including 6-10 from deep, to break Steph Curry's Game 7 record set two weeks ago against the Kings (50 points).

  • He also added 13 rebounds and 5 assists, joining Wilt Chamberlain (1964), Rick Barry (1967), Russell Westbrook (2017) and Jamal Murray (2020) as just the fifth player in NBA history with a 50-10-5 playoff game.

What they're saying: After the game, Sixers coach Doc Rivers was asked how many playoff games of this caliber he could recall seeing.

  • "One, and it was in this building ... it was LeBron," he said, referencing LeBron James' iconic 45-15-5 in the 2012 East finals to force Game 7.
  • "That's the only time I've seen a performance like that live."

The other side: Joel Embiid (15 points) and James Harden (9) struggled all game, shooting 8-29 and combining for fewer than half as many points as Tatum alone.

  • And Rivers falls to 6-10 all-time in Game 7s — the most such losses by any coach in NBA history.

State of play: The conference finals are now set, with Boston joining the Nuggets, Lakers and Heat in the final four after L.A. and Miami advanced with Game 6 wins on Friday.

  • Lakers 122, Warriors 101: LeBron (30-9-9), Anthony Davis (17-20) and Austin Reaves (23-5-6) fueled the Lakers' victory as they became just the second No. 7 seed to make the conference finals (1987 SuperSonics).
  • Heat 96, Knicks 92: Jimmy Butler (24-8-4) and Miami withstood Jalen Brunson's 41-point night to become just the second No. 8 seed to make the conference finals (1999 Knicks).

3. ⚽️ Snapshot: European soccer's homestretch

Barcelona celebrate their first LaLiga title since 2019. Photo: David Ramos/Getty Images

Europe's Big Five soccer leagues are in the homestretch, with 2-5 games left for all 98 teams. Here's where each stands in the race for the title, Champions League qualification and the dreaded relegation zone.

Of note: Champions League (top four) and relegation (bottom three) are the same in England, Spain and Italy, but differ slightly in Germany and France.

🇪🇸 LaLiga: Barcelona's win on Sunday clinched their first title since 2019 and 27th overall, which trails only Real Madrid's 35.

  • Champions League: 1. Barcelona (85), 2. Real Madrid (71), 3. Atlético Madrid (69), 4. Real Sociedad (62) … Villarreal (57) and Real Betis (52) may be too far behind.
  • Relegation: 20. Elche (19), 19. Espanyol (31), 18. Getafe (34) … Five other teams have 35-39 points.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Premier League: Manchester City's win on Sunday, paired with Arsenal's loss, all but wrapped up City's third straight title. And Southampton will be relegated after 11 years in the EPL.

  • Champions League: 1. Manchester City (85 points), 2. Arsenal (81), 3. Newcastle (66), 4. Manchester United (66) … Liverpool (62) are still alive.
  • Relegation: 20. Southampton (24), 19. Leicester City (30), 18. Leeds (31) … Everton (32) and Nottingham Forest (34) aren't far ahead.

🇮🇹 Serie A: Napoli already clinched their first title since 1990 and third overall, marking the fourth different Italian champion in the last four seasons (Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan).

  • Champions League: 1. Napoli (83), 2. Juventus (69), 3. Inter Milan (66), 4. Lazio (65) … AC Milan (61), Roma (59) and Atalanta (58) are still alive, but barely.
  • Relegation: 20. Sampdoria (17), 19. Cremonese (24), 18. Hellas Verona (30) … Spezia (30) and Lecce (32) aren't far ahead.

🇩🇪 Bundesliga: Dortmund, trailing by just one point, hope to end Bayern Munich's run of 10 straight titles.

  • Champions League: 1. Bayern (68), 2. Dortmund (67), 3. RB Leipzig (60), 4. FC Union Berlin (59) … Freiburg (56) is running out of time.
  • Relegation: 18. Hertha Berlin (25), 17. VfB Stuttgart (29) … Three other teams have 30-32 points; 16th place competes in a relegation playoff against third place in tier two.

🇫🇷 Ligue 1: PSG are in line to win their record-breaking 11th title.

  • Champions League: 1. PSG (81), 2. Lens (75) … Marseille (73) should get the third spot, which only gets them to the qualifying stage.
  • Relegation: 20. Angers (14), 19. Troyes (22), 18. Ajaccio (23), 17. Nantes (33) … Three other teams have 34-38 points; four teams relegated this year as Ligue 1 is reducing to 18 teams.

4. ⚡️ Lightning round

Photo: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

🏀 Ja suspended again: The Grizzlies suspended Ja Morant from all team activities pending league review after another video surfaced showing the star guard holding a gun. This comes just two months after his first suspension in the wake of a similar video.

🏈 Commanders deal finalized: The group led by 76ers and Devils owner Josh Harris reached an agreement on Friday to buy the Commanders from Dan and Tanya Snyder. The deal, pending approval by league owners, is for a record-shattering $6.05 billion.

🏀 Monty Williams fired: The Suns fired head coach Monty Williams in the aftermath of their blowout elimination loss to the Nuggets. Williams, who won Coach of the Year last season and led Phoenix to the NBA Finals in 2021, had three years and more than $20 million left on his contract.

🥎 Road to the WCWS: Oklahoma, the two-time reigning Women's College World Series champions, earned the No. 1 overall seed when the NCAA softball tournament's 64-team field was revealed on Sunday.

5. ⚾️ Stat du jour: Greinke K's 1,000th batter

Photo: John Fisher/Getty Images

Zack Greinke joined an exclusive club on Saturday, becoming the fifth pitcher in MLB history to strike out 1,000 different batters.

  • Nolan Ryan: 1,182 different batters struck out
  • Randy Johnson: 1,123
  • Greg Maddux: 1,049
  • Roger Clemens: 1,022
  • Greinke: 1,000 (and counting)

More MLB:

  • Naylor's clutch: Guardians 1B/DH Josh Naylor is the first player in the expansion era (since 1961) to hit a go-ahead HR in the 8th inning or later in three straight games.
  • LA owns SD: The Dodgers swept the Padres over the weekend for their 11th consecutive series victory over their Southern California neighbors.
  • Cedric's cycle: Orioles CF Cedric Mullins hit for the 12th cycle in franchise history on Friday, completing the feat with a three-run HR in his final at-bat.
  • Young stud: Marlins RHP Eury Pérez, 20, impressed in his debut on Friday (4.2 IP, 7 K, 2 BB, 2 ER) and made history as the first MLB player born in the year 2003. I feel old.

6. 🇺🇸 Photos across America

the rock daps up winning team
XFL owner Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson congratulates the Renegades on their championship. Photo: Aric Becker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

SAN ANTONIO — The 4-6 Arlington Renegades, led by Hall of Famer and former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, upset the 9-1 D.C. Defenders, 35-26, to win the XFL championship in the rebooted league's inaugural season.

jason day holding trophy
Photo: Tim Heitman/Getty Images

MCKINNEY, Texas — Jason Day (-23) held off Austin Eckroat and Si Woo Kim to win the Byron Nelson by a stroke, giving the former World No. 1 his first PGA Tour victory in five years — a span of 105 winless starts.

red bulls fans with red smoke
Photo: Evan Yu/Getty Images

HARRISON, N.J. — The Red Bulls ended their seven-game winless streak with a 1-0 victory over crosstown foe NYCFC in the Hudson River Derby as MLS Rivalry Week kicked off Saturday.

nascar pit crew
Photo: David Jensen/Getty Images

DARLINGTON, S.C. — William Byron won Sunday's Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway, but Christopher Bell's pit crew won the NASCAR photo of the weekend.

7. 🌎 Photos around the world

overhead view of goal being scored
Jonathan Marchessault scores the first goal of his hat trick. Photo: Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

EDMONTON — The Golden Knights are heading to the Western Conference finals after beating the Oilers, 5-2, on Sunday behind Jonathan Marchessault's natural hat trick (three straight goals) and Adin Hill's 38 saves.

chelsea celebrates title with on-field selfie
Photo: Naomi Baker - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

LONDON — Chelsea beat Manchester United, 1-0, on Sunday to claim their third straight Women's FA Cup title. A record 77,390 fans packed into Wembley Stadium, the most ever for a domestic women's match.

big crowd at wnba game in toronto
Photo: Andrew Lahodynskyj/NBAE via Getty Images

TORONTO — Saturday's Sky-Lynx preseason game at Scotiabank Arena, home of the Raptors and Maple Leafs, was the WNBA's first-ever game played in Canada.

teddy riner after winning judo title
Photo: Noushad Thekkayil/NurPhoto via Getty Images

DOHA, Qatar — France's Teddy Riner, 34, won his record-extending 11th judo world championship, making the 6-foot-8 Guadeloupe native both the oldest and youngest man (18) to win a world judo title.

8. 📺 Watchlist: Game 7 in Dallas

Photo: Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Stars host the Kraken tonight in Dallas (8pm ET, ESPN) for a winner-take-all Game 7, with a spot in the Western Conference finals on the line.

  • State of play: The Stars hope to return to the final four for the second time in four seasons, while the Kraken would make their conference final debut in just their second season.
  • Betting tip: Take the over (O/U 5.5 goals), which has hit in all six games of this series, including nine-goal outbursts in Games 1, 3, 4 and 6.

More to watch:

9. 🏀 WNBA trivia

Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Brittney Griner scored 10 points in the Mercury's preseason loss to the Sparks on Friday, marking her first competitive game since Phoenix lost the 2021 WNBA Finals 572 days ago.

  • Question: Who won the title that year?
  • Hint: Doesn't play on either coast.

Answer at the bottom.

10. 🍿 Top plays: Weekend edition

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Source: Giphy

Apologies for this, but due to some technical difficulties, we've only got three top plays for you today.

  1. 🏈 What a catch!
  2. ⚾️ Incredible focus.
  3. ⚽️ Perfect touch, beautiful finish.

Watch all three.

Talk tomorrow,

Jeff "51 in Game 7 is wild" Tracy

Trivia answer: Chicago Sky

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