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As mobile sports betting spreads, a boon for NBA owners, some new mini-dramas, and inevitable collateral damage

The value of NBA teams is increasing thanks to new sponsorships like jersey patches and an expected huge deal for TV rights.

Another frontier: sports betting. 

As Chris Sheridan wrote 4/18/21 in Basketball News, New Jersey border towns surpass Las Vegas as sports gambling hotspot, towns very close to New York City have sucked in New York gamblers way too itchy for the recently legalized--and enabled maybe by February--New York State mobile sports betting. 

And then this quote from former player, TV analyst, and known gambler Charles Barkley: “I was talking to an [NBA] owner who told me in three-to-five years, we will not even need the TV money. That’s how big this thing is going to be." (h/t commenter Bobbo, aka NetsDaily's Bob Windrem, aka NetIncome.)

Now that may be hype, and we don't actually know the volume of betting, as Sheridan pointed out, but sports gambling stocks are booming and others are hungry for stock exchange listings

Indeed, the latter article notes that holding company Super Group is being acquired by Sports Entertainment Acquisition Corp (SEAC) and is acquiring Digital Gaming Corporation, which just happens to have marketing agreements with at least four NBA teams, including the Brooklyn Nets.

Note: the Barclays Center operating company lobbied for sports betting and, as "Bobbo" noted, the company has trademarked "Bet on Brooklyn" and the so far unused "Brooklyn Gaming."

Things to watch for

One argument for sports betting is that it legalizes what otherwise would be happening in the shadows. But the ability to bet not only on game outcomes but mini-dramas within a game or season--a player's total in a quarter--can create perverse incentives within fandom, and perhaps put pressure on coaches.

That, of course, might lead to the spectre of some participants shading the results to win bets--not as easy today, but remember Pete Rose

And some problem gamblers will suffer. As noted, once Michigan legalized sports betting and online casinos, the number of calls to the Michigan Problem Gambling Helpline in February increased by more than ten times over a comparable month.

There may be something different, more accelerated, about the impact of technology. As Jeff Bell wrote recently in Forbes:
But this isn’t just a game. It has serious, real-life consequences for millions of Americans, and we need to demand more education, regulation and accountability to keep people safe. We shouldn’t wait for online sports betting to become a problem; we should push for preemptive action from operators and state governments.

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