The Ukiah Daily Journal

It's also the Super Bowl ... of betting


It's Super Bowl Sunday and even if many fans are still mourning the abrupt end of the San Francisco 49ers' season, most will likely watch at least some of today's matchup of the Philadelph­ia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs. Even folks who have no interest in football will probably tune in if only to see Rihanna's halftime performanc­e and the commercial­s.

Ah, the commercial­s. This year's spots will not include come ons for crypto, since the flame out of FTX and its founder has even kept celebrity athlete endorsers on the sidelines.

Last year's Super Bowl was dubbed the “Crypto Bowl” because four cryptocurr­ency companies, including FTX, ran expensive commercial­s.

FTX, it turned out, was a bad bet, more of a Ponzi scheme than a legitimate investing vehicle.

But there will be plenty of ads promoting gambling. Big time sports is all about gambling and the odds are high that even though sports betting is illegal in California, there's a lot of local action on today's game. Sports betting, illegal outside Nevada for decades, is trendy now — as you'll know if you've watched a National Football League game lately. Ads for betting websites are nearly as common as spots for beer and insurance, after gambling ads went mainstream during last year's Super Bowl.

Consider that gambling on this weekend's Super Bowl is expected to reach record-breaking levels, with more than 50 million Americans projected to bet $16 billion on the game.

And then there's this: Super Bowl LVII is the first NFL title game to be played in a state with legalized sports betting. Fans inside State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, will be able to place mobile-phone bets during the game.

About 30 million Americans were planning to make Super Bowl sports wagers online — on both legal and illegal sites — as well as in legal sports books and with illegal bookies, according to a survey by the American Gaming Associatio­n. That is up 66% from last year's Super Bowl. About 28 million Americans plan to bet on the game casually with friends and through pools and contests. The gaming associatio­n's estimate of $16 billion in legal and illegal Super Bowl bets is more than double last year's estimate of $7.6 billion.

The expected recordbrea­king action comes as 36 states and the District of Columbia have legalized sports betting. Last year, sports wagering generated about $7.5 billion in revenue for operators after paying out winning bets. The industry has rapidly expanded since a Supreme Court ruling in 2018 cleared the way for states beyond Nevada to allow sports wagering.

Just a little over three months ago, however, California voters decisively turned down two different ballot proposals to legalize sports betting.

Propositio­n 26 proposed, in part, legalizing in-person sports wagering, allowing sports betting at tribal casinos and four horse tracks. It was backed by the state's tribes, which control much of California's gaming.

Propositio­n 27 was funded by national betting sites Fanduel, Draftkings and BETMGM and would have allowed tribes to join with these out-of-state internet gambling companies to provide online wagering on sporting events

Voters may have felt that the last thing California needs is more gambling, since Nevada, right next door, is the national gambling capital. But after Nevada, California has the most slot machines of any state along with 66 tribal casinos, 84 card rooms, 33 horse racing facilities and 23,000 stores selling lottery tickets.

It's a safe bet that a large proportion of gamblers will end up addicted and in financial and moral ruin. That's why the Draftkings and Fanduel ads display tiny messages at the bottom of their TV commercial­s: “Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER.”

Investing in a stock you haven't researched, putting your savings into a Ponzi scheme, betting on the Eagles or Chiefs with money you can't afford to lose — well, the rapidly growing, multi-billion-dollar “respectabl­e” gaming industry has no problem leaving behind forlorn gamblers who have incurred tens of thousands of dollars of debt.

And next year, the Super Bowl will be hosted in ... Las Vegas.

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