It's hard to pick just four people!
Legal Sports Report

An LSR Fireside Chat, Part 2: Who Were The Mount Rushmore Figures Of Sports Betting In 2018?

sports betting

Welcome back to a (mostly) civil discussion among the Legal Sports Report staff on the sports betting year that was. The last 12 months in sports betting proved enormously eventful and covered more ground than we possibly could review.

We tried to put 2018 in sports betting into perspective in Part 1 of our Fireside Chat. Today, we start with a debate on the most important figures of the last year. Enjoy.

The Fab Four

Adam Candee

So, gentlemen: who are the Mount Rushmore figures of sports betting from 2018? You only get four and sorry, Eric, but you can’t name yourself.

Dustin Gouker

I think the list starts and ends with Gritty, no?

Eric Ramsey

I will take my dog outside while I consider your question. First thought is just Eric times four, though.

Adam

Gritty is the SI Sportsman of the Year, and I will drive to Temecula to fight anyone who says otherwise. If we stick to sports (betting), I’ll go with Chris Christie, Jason Robins, Jim Murren and Orrin Hatch. If that group doesn’t get us talking, I can’t imagine what would.

Someone has to be the face of the PASPA repeal, so come on down, Chris. As eloquently discussed, DraftKings‘ swift move to the fore of sports betting is remarkable, and a testament to being nimble and hungry in a time of change.

MGM is risking big on the future of sports betting and Murren is the point man. And like it or not, Hatch gets a spot for leaving a federal sports betting bill that will drive national discussion in our stockings.

Not quite the Beatles

Dustin

I’ve not been a fan of DraftKings at various points over the years with the arc of the DFS industry. But you gotta put Jason Robins on there. His company launched the first sports betting app in New Jersey and is the early leader in the market.

I’ll go with Murren, too — all the aggressive MGM deals related to sports betting get him the nod.

Christie didn’t even have that much to do with the case other than his name was on it (it’s not even on the final case, as it got changed to current governor Phil Murphy.)

I guess I would side with Hatch being on there, too. My replacement would have to be Adam Silver. Love or hate the role the NBA has played in the rollout of sports betting; we’re having conversations today that Silver helped make it easier to have through his words and actions. (I still don’t think his league deserves any integrity fees or royalties though.)

Last but not least

Eric

I would HAVE to put Adam Silver in the George Washington spot on my sports betting Mount Rushmore. Yes, I hate the role the NBA is trying to have in the sports betting industry — namely, collecting a cut for simply existing — but Silver has driven and normalized the conversation dating back to his NY Times op-ed in 2014.

It is hard to argue with what DraftKings has built, and MGM is clearly going to be a part of the fabric of sports betting for the indefinite future. So let’s carve Robins’ and Murren’s faces in there, too.

I can’t overlook what Joe Asher is doing as CEO of William Hill, either. Again, love them or hate them, Will Hill has been on the leading edge of launch in every state so far and has a broader footprint than any competitor. Never forget who booked the first legal wagers post-PASPA.

One last entry?

Dustin

If we put Darren Rovell on the Mount Rushmore, will he retweet this? Asking for a friend.

Eric

He does have more followers than all of our selections combined.

GTFO with Orrin Hatch, Adam. He is, thankfully retiring to the beaches of Utah after SCOTUS said his 1992 law was garbage though we should probably talk about the role the federal government could/will/should have in sports betting.

Dustin

I am all for the federal government being involved in some way in how sports betting went down, just not exactly how Orrin and friends want it.

Any action from the feds has to begin with enforcement of existing laws when it comes to offshore sportsbooks that serve the US. If the federal government does nothing there, it really has no place asserting its will in the legal sports betting industry.

Adam

I will not GTFO, Eric. It’s negligent to ignore what impact the federal government could have on the future of the US sports betting industry. Hatch drove the push for a new federal framework and that, to me, creates a greater impact than anything William Hill or any non-DraftKings/MGM operator is doing.

Didn’t see that not coming

Adam

Alright, off my soapbox. What was one thing you expected to happen in 2018 that didn’t materialize?

Eric

Maybe this was naive or wishful thinking on my part, but I fully expected my home state of New York to take at least some small step forward.

Remember NY was ahead of the game with a law back in 2013 that authorized sports betting pending a change to PASPA. But it’s been crickets since May, including a failure to pass more comprehensive legislation.

The ball is squarely in the court of NYS Gaming to promulgate rules under the current law, but they seem to be waiting on lawmakers.

Dustin

Agree with Eric; I thought New York would get its act together and have sports betting this year.

The timing was right for it to get it done in 2018, it had an existing law on the books to conduct it via its existing commercial casinos, and it had already talked about the issue. It’s the one state where we really could have seen action and we didn’t.

But it’s looking 2019 could/should happen in the Empire State.

Eric

Pick something other than NY, Adam.

Dustin

I am also surprised that the end of all sport didn’t happen, as that is how some leagues have portrayed what would happen in the wake of PASPA if they didn’t get their way on sports betting legislation.

Adam

At Eric’s demand, I’ll jump slightly west to Pennsylvania. Perhaps naively, I expected operators to stick together against the state’s 36 percent tax rate and $10 million license fee — both of which far outpaces any other state.

A unified front might have forced PA legislators to reopen the law in 2018 or 2019 to encourage investment. I guess if you want to understand just how lucrative an opportunity sports betting really is in the US, this is your case study because casinos paid up at a level that guarantees near-term losses to get in early on the long-term opportunity.

And that said, NY whiffing on sports betting with a law already on the books and a next-door market poised to steal its cash is astounding.

Adam Candee
- Adam Candee is the managing editor of Legal Sports Report. He covers sports business and news from Las Vegas. Adam is a former editor and reporter at the Las Vegas Sun, Arizona Daily Sun and KLAS-TV. He can be reached at [email protected]
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