We’re still somewhere between very, very far off and never from a world where I can wager on whether Chris Paul will punch someone in the testicles should Rockets/Warriors get to at least a 6 game series. But if I use that as the “anything goes!” extreme, it’s not hard to imagine both the gambling hauls and TV viewership (and not just for the games) changing dramatically to the upside.
That “anything goes” scenario has the potential to disrupt the entire media landscape. I’m not saying I’m rooting for that kind of anarchy but I’m not sure yet if I’m rooting against it either.
Just as major professional sports begin to be offered exclusively on streaming platforms (hello, Phillies on Facebook), a major, paradigm-shifting element in legalized sports gambling enters the fold.
Imagine for me, if you will, a world in which you view sporting events online, and rather than screen overlays with likes and comments – like Facebook is doing with baseball – you see lines, odds and real-time betting options. Tap the screen, place a bet on the outcome of the next game, half, quarter, series, or play… and you have the ultimate marriage of sports and gaming. I’m not saying such a world is imminent, or even close, but it’s coming. Leagues want a piece of this action, and what better way to do it than with interactive broadcasts.
This meshes so outrageously well with a generation that has grown up with shorter attention spans, used to playing micro-transaction games and streaming e-sports events. For all the hand-wringing about younger viewers having allegiance to players and not teams, and preferring Redzone-like productions to sitting down and watching a full game, betting brings with it the chance to encapsulate all of those elements and add the essential element of having real money at stake. It’s what the entire mobile, sports, streaming, gaming, fantasy and gambling worlds have been building towards. You can already place real-time, micro bets on sports in Europe, but now the broadcasts can, in theory, be one and the same with that experience. What if Amazon gets a gaming license? They already have your credit card. Suddenly, you’re betting on the football game you’re watching, with the option to add a 10% booster to your winnings if you apply them toward purchasing the jersey of the player on the screen, all without leaving the action. Cha-fucking-ching.