ESPN's Scott Van Pelt says broadcasters should be transparent about sports betting.
Along with "One Big Thing," one of Scott Van Pelt's signature SportsCenter segments is "Bad Beats." On the latest SI Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina, Van Pelt talked about how he goes about writing his "One Big Thing" monologue every day and what he thinks the impact of legalized sports betting has been a year after the Supreme Court voted in favor of it.
Below is a transcript of Van Pelt's feelings on sports gambling and why he thinks the topic should be discussed openly and not in any veiled way, even during games.
Jimmy Traina: This whole gambling thing, I feel like it's not taking off like people expected. I think people like you and I, who have been known to place a wager over the years, we sort of expect that if you haven't been wagering, you're not going to start now because it's legal in a bunch of states. I think a lot of media companies thought this was gonna be a big boon. And I don't think it's happened yet and I don't know if it will. I know a lot of people do. What's your take on that as someone who likes to place a wager now and again?
Scott Van Pelt: Well, what I've always said about this is that all this does is make it less taboo and you see every network is trying to capitalize in some form or fashion. But my feeling was it's the same as marijuana. Like, if you if you live in a state where it suddenly becomes legal and in your whole life you've never been high, the idea that you're going to wake up on like a Wednesday morning and go, "Hey I'm gonna run down to the head shop and buy -- you won't even know the terminology -- but, like, “Hey, let's rip bong hits because it's legal.” Well, no, if you wanted to get high, you've got a guy, you gotta connect somewhere, and he can get you a nickel bag or dime bag or whatever weight you need to get where you need to be. And if you want to gamble, as you and I both know, you've got outs somewhere and the fact that is legal, you don't even need those outs It's just less taboo. It just means people like you and me can talk about it more, but I don't talk about it more than I did when we started. I just looked at gambling as I was gonna be honest about it because I knew people did it and it just felt like any kind of icky connotation was just silly. And clearly that's where we are now. The teams are going to put gambling kiosks in their stadiums and set up book if they can. I never believed that this was going to create a a new a new generation of gamblers. They already are and they already exist. All this does is, we don't have to feel like we're in the back room of the party like we're the lepers. Now it's out and on the main stage on every network. We got Rovell tweeting about it, so that's good times.
JT: I saw a tweet from him this morning, as a matter of fact, about how New York is not going to have mobile gambling until 2020 and I’m just like, you really don't need that. Hate to burst your bubble, but 5Dimes.com will take care of everything you need.
SVP: Now see, this is the minutia of gambling. At some point as it becomes legal, what becomes interesting is how do the authorities concern themselves with those people who are not being taxed for all this. The whole point is so you can be taxed the way marijuana has been taxed and create all this revenue. Well, if your buddy is running something out of the back of a pizza shop, the feds get involved are like, "Hey, we want our taste." This is how it works, right?
JT: The NFL in all this is what I'm fascinated by because none of the networks will go on record as to admitting it and they all give you a different story, but I know that Goodell has told them not to have spreads and betting mentioned during the games. And it's interesting to me, though, because they're going to get involved in it somehow some way. But they still don't want it discussed during the games, whiche both know Al [Michaels] knows how to do it in the backhanded way, but to act like, the spread is 7 and a team is up by 13 and they're on the 1-yard line there's 30 seconds left in game -- are they gonna take a knee -- and an announcer can't address that is absurd to me. But you know Goodell doesn't want that.
SVP: We agree. We completely agree about that and that's why I have chosen to be honest about it because we all understand what it is. So there's no need to talk about it in this veiled way. What will be really interesting, and it's already happening, by the time they're in Las Vegas with the Raiders, they will have let these other leagues be their lead blockers and kind of create the space where it's like "OK, well what have you guys done?” I mean they already have partnerships for information and things of that nature which is interesting. The league's wanting they're cut from Vegas for integrity fees, I just don't see it happening. I just don't. But if that did happen, nobody would benefit more from a dollars and cents perspective of that than the NFL. If they say we want X percent of what is wagered on your handle for us, they'd benefit massively. And then if the other leagues have kind of already created this wave of acceptance, then they can just tip toe on in and say "Don't mind if I do. Here we are. Oh what a cool deal you guys are part of over here. Yeah that stuff before is in the past. It was silly. Everything's great. Everyone should bet. Come to Vegas." I assume that’s where we'll get eventually. They'll let others do the heavy lifting. They're just going to let other leagues be at the fore.
JT: I don't I don't expect you know Jim Nantz and Joe Buck to talk for three-and-a-half straight hours about the line. But when the the line or the over.under is on the line, no pun intended, a comment about it would be nice. That's all. But I am not holding my breath.
SVP: I agree. We're all in the same place with this. I think everyone just sort of eye rolls like, this insistence upon ignoring what is plainly obvious, it's an affront to intelligence and that's my biggest thing and anything that goes on now, Jimmy, is when it's just when things are obvious, we're adults. Let's just be adults about it. And talking about it as if it isn't real… it’s like a guy with a combover. You're bald. It's all right. No one thinks you're not bald. So doing that thing you do, when you leave the house like, "Yeah man, I have got quite a head of hair." No you don't. You're bald. So just be bald. Never has it been easier to be bald and never has it been easier to say gambling' is OK than right now, so I don't know how we got where we got with that analogy but I think it made sense.