For years, sports gambling was presented in the media through sly, coded language — if it was acknowledged at all. Gambling was the taboo half of a parallel sports conversation that seemed to acknowledge an activity that was technically illegal and practically quite prevalent. Then came the Supreme Court in May, effectively striking down a federal ban and paving the way for states to regulate sports betting. In the weeks that have followed, casinos and horse tracks are moving forward with plans to open sports books, states are debating the legal framework, teams and leagues are studying the ramifications, and media companies are racing to put stakes in the ground.
While no media executive is anticipating the game broadcasts to change significantly, the dialogue around sporting events could evolve. With the legality no longer posing any sort of ethical barrier, there’s no longer a need to wink, and sports gambling probably will be mainstreamed in a way that will be apparent to both gamblers and fans who’ve never placed a bet in their lives: