Supreme Court gives states go-ahead to allow betting on sports

WASHINGTON (KGO) -- Sports betting could soon be legalized in 26 states, and California is expected to be among them.

Some say it's a home run, including sports radio host Joe Fortenbaugh of 95.7 The Game.

"I think it's a great thing," Fortenbaugh said. "It's going to create more jobs, it's going to create more revenue for the states, and let's be honest: people are going to do it no matter what."

Some people bet at casino sportsbooks in Vegas, some bet under the table with the neighborhood bookie, and some use offshore betting sites like BetDSI, headquartered in Costa Rica.

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"If sports betting was illegal worldwide, the NFL would lose at least a quarter of its fan base," said BetDSI spokesperson Scott Cooley.

Most major sports leagues have already issued statements committing to protect the integrity of their games in the face of increased pressure from wagering. But Fortenbaugh says what the leagues will likely want next is a piece of the action.

"They came out early and said they'd like one percent of the handle," he said. "The handle is essentially all money wagered. That is an insane request."

For Bay Area sports fans, it means that one day in the next few years, venues like AT&T Park might have betting windows right next to team merchandise stores. But many believe the biggest market will be online betting, mainly on smartphones.

"I think it's gonna be a multibillion dollar market," said venture capitalist Eyal Shaked.

His firm, Shaked Ventures, has invested heavily in eSports -- elite video game tournaments. Under the law as it now stands following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling, he said he believes these are treated just like football or basketball.

"The combination of eSports and sports betting could lead to very interesting outcomes," he said.

Shaked said he envisions giving spectators the ability to place bets from inside their VR headsets, or with their TV remotes. The companies that figure out these technologies first, he said, could win big.

"I think you're going to see big media companies in the U.S. trying to strike partnerships with gaming companies," he said.

In all this, the most severe losers could be gamblers who get in too deep.

"It's very, very difficult to make a living gambling on sports," Cooley said. "Only about 2.3 percent of gamblers win over the long haul."

Fortenbaugh points out there's one other likely loser:

"The neighborhood bookie sadly looks like he's on his way out of business," he said.
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