In May of last year in Murphy v. NCAA, the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act allowing legal sportsbooks to open nationwide.
Today, the Los Angeles Rams have launched a new mobile game, Rams Pick’em, that will allow fans (18 and older in all states except for Rhode Island, New York and Florida) to make real-time reactions to games that can earn prizes like tickets to future games or autographed memorabilia.
You can draw a pretty direct line from that SCOTUS case through this app to the future of sports gambling.
From the Rams’ press release:
Fans of all levels can test their football instincts and earn points for every prediction they get right. Players compete to win exclusive prizes for each game, including two tickets and pregame field passes to an upcoming Rams home game as well as autographed merchandise.
Rams Pick’em launches for Saturday’s preseason opener against the Oakland Raiders, and will continue for every game through the Rams’ season. Fans can play at therams.com/predict, or through the Rams mobile app. Pregame predictions will be open until kickoff with additional predictions unveiled during halftime.
Rams Pick‘em includes a mix of fun, game-specific questions and micro-outcomes, such as “Which team completes a passing play of 30+ yards in the opening half?” or “Which of these players racks up 10+ rushing yards first?” Throughout the game, players can track their success, with rankings updated in real time as results are tallied live. Point values increase as the game progresses, so late-comers still have a chance to win the available prizes.
NBC Sports Washington rolled something similar out for the Washington Live TV Gamblers’ preseason opener last night:
Here’s a view of NBC Sports Washington’s Predict The Game in the third quarter of tonight’s preseason game. pic.twitter.com/egLKagslYY— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) August 9, 2019
The NFL has been preparing for this. The league and some owners have publicly talked about a desire to slowly enter into the gambling market while stressing the need to maintain the integrity of the game.
As this piece from Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer noted, the Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have helped other NFL franchises understand the opportunity that in-game prop bets offer because those teams’ owners also own soccer teams in the English Premier League which already offers legalized in-game gambling (Rams Owner Stan Kroenke owns Arsenal while the Glazer family, which owns the Bucs, also owns Manchester United):
It’s clear that traditional betting on games and odds doesn’t have near the upside for NFL teams as in-game props...
Not only is there great opportunity to turn a profit here, there’s also the reality that this sort of action is tailor-made for a younger generation that is less willing to sit there and just watch a game, with nothing else going on, for three hours.
So consider this as a bit of a soft launch of sorts.
Real-time gambling is coming, and it’s going to require all of us to recalibrate our viewing habits. While the NBA is likely to outpace the NFL in how they respond, the NFL isn’t going to ignore the behemoth that gambling represents outright. There’s a structural advantage here too as the NFL is the least volatile of the major sports leagues; per Odds Shark, the NFL’s 54.55% rate of favorites winning against the spread was the highest rate compared to the NBA, MLB, NHL and college football and basketball.
So go ahead and sign up.
If nothing else, it’ll give you a preview of what sports engagement is going to turn into in the very near future.