Photo by Jonathan Petersson / Unsplash

Safe bet: Gambling ads are here to stay

Ubiquitous. It’s a word that means, according to, “existing or being everywhere, especially at the same time; omnipresent:”

Bruce Penton

September 10, 2023

Sports betting. Gambling ads. Ubiquitous. In one man's opinion, it's getting to be too much.

Bet MGM. Bet365. FanDuel. Draft Kings. Sports Interaction. Play Alberta. Caesars Sportsbook. Bet Rivers Sportsbook. Points Bet Canada. A sports fan can't turn on a televised sporting event these days without being bombarded by gambling-related commercials, urging the viewer to get in on the fun and chase big financial windfalls by making the correct bet. It's a $220 billion industry in North America. Every pro league has an 'official betting partner' and 11 North American sporting venues have on-site wagering capabilities. More are likely to come.

And if you've ever wondered why the gambling mecca of Las Vegas is able to build such big fancy hotels and over-the-top tourist attractions, it's because the house rarely loses.

Don't get me wrong. I love to gamble. Small-scale stuff, well within my limits. The sports gambling sites, however, need bigger players than me to make their money and it's worrisome that millions of sports fans, who used to watch for the excitement of the late-game winning goal, or the Hail Mary touchdown, are now induced by the excitement of covering the spread – and who cares which team actually wins the game?

Turn on a Blue Jays' game any night of the week and you'll find early in the proceedings that the Jays are, say, -115 to win. It suggests fans go immediately to the Bet365 site and put a few dollars down and then cash in when the Jays do, indeed, win the game. Hockey Night in Canada has a special segment on Sportsnet every week where Cabbie Richards, who has the title of executive producer of sports betting content for the network, informs fans of the spread for the game they are watching. Former HNIC host Dave Hodge, who once quit on principle over the way things were done at the network, said he would have drawn a line in the sand on the preponderance of gambling-related content. In an online story on Hockey Unfiltered With Ken Campbell, Hodge said he would have protested by saying "It (gambling promotion) goes or I go."

The saddest aspect of this is when two of the greatest hockey stars of all- time, Wayne Gretzky and Connor McDavid, team up for a BetMGM commercial to promote betting. Impressionable kids of all ages look to those two in hero worship fashion, but the message they're getting is not how to improve your skating, or beat the goalie on the short side, it's about putting down money to win even more.

It's ubiquitous. It's out of control. But it won't stop, because too much money is involved and money makes the world go around.

Sports Quotes

  • Headline at "FanDuel Promo Offers Complimentary $100 Bet To First-Time Gambling Addiction Hotline Callers"
  • Former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne, reprinted on Jack Finarelli's sports website: "My hardest job is to convince the people of Nebraska is that 10-1 is not a losing season."
  • From Club Pro Guy, on Twitter, from an unnamed golf course: "Members -- Cart No. 39 has a punctured fuel tank and could be a ticking time bomb. If you get that cart, please proceed with caution."
  • RJ Currie of "Canadian Olympic swimmer Penny Oleksiak's sister was an NCAA rower, and her brother is an NHL defenceman with the Kraken. No wonder she's such a talent, swimming in that gene pool."
  • Bob Molinaro of (Hampton, Va.): "The NFL season begins with 10 players suspended for sports gambling and ends with a Super Bowl in Las Vegas, the gambling capital of the world. A little bit of a mixed message, don't you think?"
  • European Ryder Cup veteran Paul McGinley, offering proof that teams from his era had more fun than today's golfers do: "We had consumed 72 bottles of wine, by Saturday."
  • Golf writer Eamon Lynch on X (formerly Twitter), on the European Ryder Cup selections: "Crafty move by Luke Donald in choosing Nicolai (Hojgaard). If he isn't playing well or gets tired, he can send in (twin brother) Rasmus the ringer and only the swing nerds will ever know."
  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: "Did you see where Pac-12 teams went 12-0 last week - the first time every league team won its opener since 1932? Stanford and Cal celebrated the feat by each sending $2 million of their TV revenue to the ACC."
  • RJ Currie of "Someone reportedly hung a 30-foot banner of Russian president Vladimir Putin off the Manhattan Bridge. Cheeky, but at least New York baseball fans get to see a pennant hanging this fall."
  • Another one from "Cheerleaders have special celebratory routine for when paramedics announce football player not dead"
  • Headline at "Pac-2 sues for control of Pac-12's money"

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