June 15, 2009

Tom Robinson of HamptonRoads.com talked about the new take by the NFL on gambling and could be a signal for gaming (they don’t want to use the
distasteful word gambling) to arrive in an outlet near you. “The NFL has let the Washington Redskins partner with the Virginia Lottery on a $20 “Redskins
Mania” scratch ticket, coming soon to the convenience store on your corner.                                                                                                                                
At the same time, the league is feverishly trying to foil Delaware’s bid to offer betting on sports – such as NFL games, coincidentally enough – at that state’s
three horse-racing tracks by the start of this football season.                                                                             
I know they have different DNA, but the animals targeted here are still pretty much filed under the same species: Gamblingalis Jonesicus.                                                                            
That is, both wagering devices invite anybody with $20 to risk that money in the name of the almighty NFL. Ah, but from which device does the NFL take a
 slice? Hmmm.             
Time’s up. The lottery, silly.                                                                                    
Gambling in various get-ups, office pools to the legal Las Vegas sports books, has fueled the NFL to mega-proportions. Now, the NFL game has a ton
going for it in entertainment value, you bet. But it’s exactly because you, you and you bet – only after reviewing the weekly NFL-issued injury report, of
course – that the NFL dominates the popularity index.                                                                                                                                  
It’s not as if Delaware’s trying to invent sports gambling. Vegas is all about it, obviously. Oregon and Montana permit it. And Delaware tried to get it going
more than 30 years ago. It didn’t take.                                                                                                               
But if the state allows it – Delaware is grandfathered from an early-’90s federal anti-sports gambling law – and lawmakers agree the time’s right to give it
another spin, that should be fair enough.                                                                                                                    
In this revenue crisis, Delaware is only playing to a strength, exploiting an advantage neighboring casino states, New Jersey most prominently, don’t enjoy.                                    
Already, a scrambling move has been launched in Jersey to let sports gambling ring there. And Maryland, which only last year endorsed slot-machines at its
racetracks, is showing signs of panic.                                                                                                             
Naturally, there’s no telling yet how Delaware’s move will affect the average Virginian interested in legally dropping $20 on a Redskins game rather than a
Redskins lottery ticket.                                                                                                                             
First, they would need to get to a dolled-up Delaware horse-track, place their bet up-front in cash, linger for three hours watching the game, collect their
winnings or not, then head home.                                                                                                                                  
That’s a huge investment of time taking the place of the usual 30-second cell call to an unnamed “friend” with that day’s NFL betting instructions.                                                   
Then again, it could be an intriguing diversion.                                                               
Either way, if Delaware itself wants to wager enough people will trade off clandestine convenience for a legal sports-book experience – for the chance to net an estimated $50 million or more the first year – that’s a game it should be free to play without NFL interference.

How much time will pass before we evolve from hearing MLB managers answering questions between innings of a game to having players sending
electronic messages immediately following a play? Lisa Dillman of the LA Times said that “NHL coaches are now doing it too and those who once used to refuse to submit to an interview on the bench are now obediently toeing the league line. There was Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle, not exactly Mr. Warm and Cuddly with the media, almost smiling (or maybe it was a grimace) during Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against Detroit.
“You know the reason I did it,” he said. “There is a fine of a substantial amount that I am susceptible for refusing to do it. It’s as simple as that. Unless you’re
prepared to pay the fine . . . and I wasn’t prepared to pay that amount, then I guess I have to do it.”
There were, apparently, 10,000 good reasons to chat away.                                             
 “I don’t understand the whole exercise of pregame comments,” Phil Jackson wrote. “The league forced these mandatory sessions on us about five years ago,  trying, I imagine to generate more stories, more buzz.
“But what am I supposed to tell the press. ‘Oh, yes, guys, this is what we’ll do against Golden State today. We’ll try more isolations with Gary [Payton],
move Shaq over to the wing, and show them that we can’t play pick and roll. ‘Give me a break!’                                
But back to the reasons the in-game interviews are here to stay. First, it’s a toy and TV likes to play with toys. And, above all, just when you think these
interviews are truly painful and decide to head to the kitchen for snacks after the third quarter, something interesting emerges.
ABC’s Doris Burke asked the right question after the first quarter Thursday night during Game 4 of the Lakers-Magic NBA Finals, noting the foul trouble of the Lakers’ big men, asking why that was happening.
That’s when Jackson must have realized this was a perfect opportunity to use something he really doesn’t like all that much to his benefit.
“Uh . . . I don’t know. They’re just tangled up in there,” Jackson said. “I don’t know what the referees are seeing out there. There’s some bogus calls out
there. . . .”                                                                         
That’s about as good as it gets.
Unless the coach happens to be Penn State’s Joe Paterno and simply refuses to do a Rose Bowl pregame interview with ABC.”


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