[toc]If you read this headline, maybe you didn’t expect to be reading about Fox Sports personality Clay Travis. But bear with me.
Clay Travis, aka not well-liked internet persona
Travis is currently “The Person The Internet Hates (TM),” or at least segments of the internet, aka Twitter.
If you don’t know who he is after Friday you don’t follow CNN or social media, or live under a rock. Anyway, here’s what he did, if you don’t know.
Anyway, the events of Friday led Travis to tweet this:
Guys at Bet Online just said they'll match our First Amendment & boobs tshirt donation to breast cancer up to $25k. https://t.co/wvOybFGWsP
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) September 15, 2017
Raising money for breast cancer is certainly a worthy cause. But the other worthy cause in the equation is Travis’ pocket. That’s because the thing you click at the end of the tweet is an “affiliate link.”
Bet Online — an offshore online casino and sportsbook that operates in the US — will end up kicking money back to Travis every time someone signs up via his link, deposits and places bets. It’s a common practice, even outside of the gambling sphere, and certainly not a nefarious one.
But the larger point is this: Offshore online sportsbooks are taking action in the US, and do so laughing all the way to the bank.
The ‘sports betting is banned’ myth
When you see sports betting and betting lines promoted all over the internet, ESPN and beyond, do you think it’s done just for people who live in or visit Las Vegas and Nevada, the only place where you can place single-game wagers? (Yes, you can also place parlay wagers in Delaware and Canada.)
If you think that’s the case, I’m sorry, but you’re an idiot. Sports betting is promoted in the US because it’s a thing a lot of Americans do, to the tune of some number that is surely more than $100 billion annually, and likely more like $150 billion or more.
Travis’ followers are almost entirely Americans, and I’m sure he’s made a small fortune getting people to sign up for accounts at offshore sportsbooks. There’s nothing wrong with what he’s doing, really, but certainly sportsbooks like Bet Online are not operating in the US in accordance with state or federal laws.
Take this example, as well:
Offshore sportsbook Bovada informs customers via email that it will no longer serve players in Delaware, Nevada, N.J, N.Y and Maryland.
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) September 13, 2017
That means Bovada, another offshore online sportsbook and casino, takes action in much of the rest of the country. That’s despite the existence of a federal ban (PASPA) and state level bans as well.
The US buries its head in the sand on sports betting
The debate about sports gambling in the US is reaching a crescendo, thanks to the New Jersey sports betting case heading to the US Supreme Court. A win for NJ will mean sports betting is likely to proliferate more quickly in the US.
If New Jersey does win, we’ll see lawmakers and policymakers wringing their hands about the possibility of legalizing sports betting. And they will ask a lot of questions. Is it something our state should do? Will it hurt our casinos/lotteries/etc.? Is it morally right? Does it hurt game integrity?
At the end of the day, all of those questions are meaningless. Sports betting is already happening in the US on a grand scale. States have a choice. They can legalize sports gambling and put a dent in the offshore sports betting market. Or they can do nothing and let revenue continue to go outside of the coffers of American businesses and state governments.
Clay Travis will probably profit either way. But at least people in the US could too with legal and regulated sports betting.