Lakers News: Magic Johnson Chimed in on Sports Gambling in Las Vegas

Lakers News: Magic Johnson Chimed in on Sports Gambling in Las Vegas

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Magic Johnson, Lakers
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Gambling is undergoing something of a transition in the US. Las Vegas and Atlantic City are no longer the only gambling hubs and there is plenty of discussion around gambling at a national level, with online sports gambling one of the key topics. Gambling is undergoing something of a transition in the US. Las Vegas and Atlantic City are no longer the only gambling hubs and there is plenty of discussion around gambling at a national level, with online sports gambling one of the key topics.

Sports gambling in the US is still restricted in many places, with laws banning bets placed via telephone still in place that were designed to restrict the Mafia’s control over sports bets. This archaic approach is now coming under fire, and we’re starting to see some of America’s biggest sports stars coming out as gambling advocates.

When it comes to basketball and gambling, we’ve already heard the opinion of one of the greatest of all time. Joining the long list of sports legends who love casinos, Magic Johnson is a self-confessed big time gambler, is rumored to have dropped hundreds of thousands of dollars in casinos during and after his playing career. Now, current LA Lakers President of Basketball Operations and Hall of Famer, Johnson has effectively planted his flag in the ground, declaring that sports fans want to gamble and that the entire outlook is changing in the US.

Nevada Appearance for Magic

Speaking at the Global Gaming Expo at Sands Expo, Johnson delivered a 30-minute keynote speech highlighting the sports betting status quo in the country and the opening of the brand new Vegas Golden Knights NHL Franchise and the proposed Oakland Raiders move to Vegas which could happen as quickly as 2019. Twitter users were quick to point out that Magic was likely taking a fee for the appearance, but the gravity associated with his name and background just goes to show that sports gambling advocates are willing to splash the cash to get the message out there. Johnson’s comments alluded to a changing sports gambling landscape that is going to give fans what they want, something that has been brushed under the carpet for a long time.

The Speech Made Big News

Johnson has a point too. Illegal sports gambling a huge underground industry in the states, with estimates ranging from $95 billion per season spent just on illegal American Football bets and up to $400 billion spent overall. There’s certainly an appetite for betting on games, so it’s no surprise that franchises are heading to Las Vegas, where sports betting is completely legal, to take advantage of this. A recent Washington Post Poll also revealed that Americans are in favor of legalized sports bets with a 55% approval rate, so there’s no doubt that there is an existing market waiting to be taken advantage of. There’s also the fact that Vegas is a growing city, with the casino and tourism industries opening up new jobs every day, providing new fans for these teams.

The Vegas Golden Knights are the First Major Sports Franchise in Las Vegas

Johnson was careful not to give his personal opinion on sports gambling, but his appearance at the expo just goes to show how aggressive the gaming industry is pushing for legalization. As well as the tax revenues generated from billions of dollars of bets, the change will shake up the gambling industry all together and could pave the way for legalized gambling across the country, instead of limited access in certain states. With an incumbent President who was once a casino magnate, it seems the time could be perfect for sports gambling advocates to strike.

Fast Facts: Gambling in the USA*

  • The gaming industry contributes $137.5 billion to the US economy.
  • The worldwide online gambling market is worth $37.9 billion
  • 11% of Americans place sports bets online

Source: Statista.com

Understanding the Popularity of Sports Gambling*

Johnson also stated that the major franchises of the US have always wanted to distance themselves from gambling, until now with the arrival of the Golden Knights and plenty of gossip around Basketball and Baseball Franchises relocating to the city. Although an association with gambling used to mean an association with organised crime for sports team, a new, regulated gambling environment as seen in Vegas is less of a risk. The MLB, NHL, NFL and NBA are certainly warming to the idea, with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred even taking to social media to declare that the official stance on gambling on baseball is changing.

Source: TopBettingAction.com

What’s Next for Sports Gambling in the US?

Although Magic Johnson’s appearance is a big name to have backing advocacy of sports betting, there are still many hoops to jump through before we see any traction. Gambling still holds a certain taboo across the US and there is plenty of opposition to the complete legalisation of any betting. Sports teams need to agree with the changes too, creating a process that needs all parties, including local and national governments to act in unison. The path is still long for universal legalised sports gambling in the US, but with an existing legal $240 billion gambling industry that generates lots of tax revenue, money may be the deciding factor in decisions at the political level.

Summary

At the Global Gaming Expo at Sands Expo, Magic Johnson delivered a 30-minute keynote speech highlighting the sports betting status quo in the country and the opening of the brand new Vegas Golden Knights NHL Franchise and the proposed Oakland Raiders move to Vegas. He alluded to a changing sports gambling landscape that is going to give fans what they want, which has given hope to sports gambling fans across the US.