The NBA has been at the forefront of attempting to take advantage of the growing popularity of sports betting in the United States. Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) last May, a number of states have already moved to legalize and regulate sports betting.
Nevada was the only state in the union in which sports betting was fully legal for decades, but the Supreme Court’s decision paved the way for others to do the same. Since the decision, New Jersey, West Virginia, Mississippi, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Rhode Island have voted for legalization. Washington D.C. recently voted in favor, as well, and more and more states are expected to follow suit in the months and years ahead.
Professional sports leagues have been quick to align themselves with betting entities since the ruling, as well. The NBA has already come to terms on agreements with a number of operators, including MGM Resorts International, while some individual teams have also done the same.
According to ESPN, the Washington Wizards are one of the teams taking the next step. NBC Sports Washington, the broadcast home of the Wizards in the D.C. metro area, has announced that the Wizards’ game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday, January 11, will feature an alternate broadcast displaying betting data. Viewers will be able to play a predictive contest with real cash prizes while the game is ongoing.
The live contest will feature a prize of $500, while the broadcast will also include live betting data and statistics throughout the game. The game on January 11 will be the first of 8 such broadcasts to take place during the remainder of the regular season.
The “Predict the Game” feature is set to include about 30 questions regarding what may happen during the game. One example question is, “Will Wizards forward Trevor Ariza score 10 or more points in the first half?”
Betting odds, point spreads and over/under totals will also be shown on graphics during the game.
NBC Sports Washington senior vice president and general manager Damon Phillips said, “Combining the excitement of live Wizards games with engaging predictive gaming and data feeds will deliver a very entertaining experience for viewers, from first-time gaming players to savvy sports bettors. The level of interest from fans, partners and sponsors in this area continues to increase, so we are pleased to offer this compelling product this season.”
As mentioned, the District of Columbia has already voted in favor of legalizing sports betting at sports venues, including the Wizards’ home, Capital One Arena. The law is still awaiting the final green light, but if passed, people in attendance will be afforded the opportunity to place sports bets within participating venues.
NBC Sports has been monitoring developments on the sports betting front. The broadcast company has registered a number of internet domains in recent months including NBCSportsbook.com and NBCSportsBook.com.
Zach Leonsis, the senior vice president of strategic initiatives at Monumental Sports & Entertainment, said, “It’s the 1.0 version of where we’re ultimately going. This will get more advanced…The challenge for operators will be to make sure that the game play is supportive and not interruptive of the broadcast itself.” Monumental Sports & Entertainment is the group that owns the Wizards and Washington Capitals, and Zach is the son of owner Ted Leonsis.
Additional betting-related broadcasts on the schedule include the Wizards’ upcoming games against the San Antonio Spurs (January 27), Indiana Pacers (January 30), Milwaukee Bucks (February 2), Charlotte Hornets (February 22), Minnesota Timberwolves (March 3), Utah Jazz (March 19) and Spurs again (April 5).
The Wizards need to do all they can to attract the interest of local viewers considering their play has been somewhat disastrous this season. Washington did pick up a shocking blowout win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night, but the Wizards are just 16-24 on the season.
The Wizards have lost All-Star guard John Wall for the season, as well, as the team’s franchise cornerstone is set to miss the remainder of the season in order to undergo a procedure to help fix an Achilles issue that has been plaguing him all season long.
Washington is only 3 1/2 games behind the Charlotte Hornets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but whether they are actually able to make up that ground remains to be seen.
Those that have been bold enough to bet on the Wizards may have had a rough go of it so far. The Wizards are just 16-24 against the spread, which is tied with the Golden State Warriors for the worst ATS record of any team in the NBA so far this season.
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