The MLB season began about 7 months ago – not counting Spring Training. Counting the playoffs, there have been close to 2500 games in the season leading to a sense that no single game until the final week or so of the season is of particular importance. Until tonight that is… The great thing about many sports is that their championship event is a one-and-done situation – – the Super Bowl, the NCAA basketball tournament, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the FIFA World Cup Tournament. Baseball only achieves that “finality” in a year when the World Series goes to a 7th game as it will tonight. Every baseball fan will be looking in to see how the game unfolds and the only excuses for missing it would involve phrases like “emergency room” or “granddaughter’s birth” or “neighborhood power outage” etc.
In case you want to know how the oddsmakers in Las Vegas see the game – or more accurately how the bettors in the sportsbooks there see the game – the Cubs are favored at minus-115 with the Indians at +105. The Total Line for runs by both teams in the game is 6.5. I like the OVER among these choices.
Since I mentioned the betting lines on tonight’s game, let me use that as a way to talk about sports gambling more generically. About a week ago, there was a story on espn.com that said a Congressional committee is examining the extant Federal gambling laws with the intention of introducing legislation to change at least some of those restrictive laws. Three specific Federal statutes are under examination and could be the targets for modification; they are the Federal Wire Act (1961), the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006.
It would seem that the rise of Daily Fantasy Sports and questions about its legality and its status as a game of chance – – i.e. gambling – – or as a game of skill – – i.e. not gambling – – is a major driver for this Congressional committee along with the desire of some States to implement single game sports wagering as a way to generate revenue for the State coffers. PASPA specifically restricts States from doing so if they did not have statues on the books making such activities legal prior to a certain date. Under that restriction, Nevada is the only state in the Union where individual game betting is legal.
Another interesting item in that espn.com report is that the State of Pennsylvania passed a resolution earlier this year telling congress to “lift the ban on sports betting and to allow states that authorize, license and regulate casino gaming including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to legalize sports betting through its licensed facilities.”
My positions on the issues here are clear and simple:
1. I think the legality or illegality of sports wagering should be the province of the individual States. If there needs to be Federal legislation to regulate some aspect of those enterprises, those regulations should exist only in the context of the individual State decisions as to whether or not sports wagering is permitted within State borders.
2. Regarding Daily Fantasy Sports and their status as gambling/non-gambling. I happen to believe they are gambling enterprises. However, if legislators believe differently, I would urge them to include tournament poker in any legislation that defines Daily Fantasy as a “game of skill” and put tournament poker on the same level.
Here is a link to the espn.com report.
Amid the controversy about the “Bathroom Law” in North Carolina, you may recall that the Atlantic Coast Conference opted to move its championship football game from Charlotte, NC. Notwithstanding the fact that I sometimes succumb to the use of “potty humor” in these rants, I will refrain from discussing anything related to the “Bathroom Law” here; that is a topic for an entirely different website. What I recently learned – even though it seems to have been announced several weeks ago – is that the game will be played in Orlando, FL at Camping World Stadium. If you are wondering what that venue is and who plays there, it used to be called the Florida Citrus Bowl and the Tangerine Bowl prior to that.
This stadium has undergone renovation recently and the ACC Championship Game will be the first football game of such a magnitude played here subsequent to those renovations. The stadium is the site of two minor bowl games each year and it was the site of the Florida State/Ole Miss game earlier this year. More than likely, the ACC Championship Game will eclipse those sorts of events in terms of importance.
Evidently, the ACC execs recognized that individual fans who had purchased tickets for the game expecting it to be in Charlotte would be disadvantaged in any new allocation of tickets in the new venue. So, they gave those folks a head start for buying tickets in Orlando if that is what they wanted to do. I read one report that said the “head start” was a 3-day lead and another report that said it was a 48-hour head start. In either case, it is good to recognize that the ACC execs saw the disruption for some of its fans and took steps to ameliorate the inconvenience/disappointment some of them could have felt.
Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte seats 75,419 folks for a football game. Camping World Stadium in Orlando seats 65,000 folks for a football game. I would assume that the ACC Championship Game would be a good draw so the “loss” of about 10,500 seats made me wonder why the ACC chose to go to Orlando. The Georgia Dome in Atlanta seats 71,228 for a football game. The Georgia Dome is in ACC country and it is a neutral field; Georgia Tech plays its home games at Bobby Dodd Stadium – also in Atlanta. It would be interesting to know the decision process that sent the game to Orlando.
Finally, here are comments from Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald regarding the Nebraska/Purdue game from two weeks ago:
“On Saturday, the Husker football team defeated Purdue 27-14. If the goal was to win and simultaneously make Wisconsin and Ohio State overconfident, I think Nebraska was two for two. Purdue was led by interim head coach Gerad Parker, at 35 the second-youngest FBS coach. When he shook hands with Mike Riley, it looked like Take Your Son To Work Day.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………