On Monday, the United States Supreme Court struck down a 1992 federal law that banned commercial sports betting in almost every state. While the decision didn’t exactly legalize gambling across the United States, it did create the opportunity for each individual state to do so and could potentially have far-reaching effects on the American public’s interaction with sports in general, particularly with regard to MMA.
Previously, only Nevada, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon had legalized sports betting and only Nevada allowed for single-game wagers. Now, states that want to offer single-game betting may do so and it is expected that Delaware, Mississippi, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia will all quickly start offering sports betting options with Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia likely to follow suit at some point.
What does this mean for MMA? Well, possibly a lot.
Sports betting currently brings in roughly $5 billion annually to Las Vegas, with an estimated $150 billion in sports betting done illegally every year. It’s easy to see that there is a high demand for gambling on sports and as that becomes legalized across the board, those numbers are likely to rise. As the UFC struggles to find reasons to get people to care about fights and buy pay-per-views, the sudden advent of a legal way for people nationwide to put money down and have a legitimately vested interest in any fight on any card is likely to increase viewership to some degree.
Also, sports franchises have now been given a powerful tool in improving the live experience of fans. As more and better ways of viewing sporting events have continued to crop up over the last decade, live attendance has fallen across the board for sporting events. Now, stadiums and arenas can offer fans easy, hassle-free gambling options on site, incentivizing higher attendance in a way that refurbished arenas, and the raise in ticket prices that go with them, cannot.
This cuts both ways though since Nevada no longer having a monopoly on legalized sports betting, could hurt the state’s status as fight capital of the world. As the UFC is based in Nevada and frequently runs their biggest shows out of the city, including the multi-fight card International Fight Week event every year, there may be less incentive for fans to make a trip to see major UFC events, preferring instead to stay at home and bet on the fights locally. It’s possible the UFC will see an uptick in attendance for their domestic shows while seeing a minor drop off in attendance for their Las Vegas events. Conversely, with Las Vegas possibly taking a hit to their tourism industry as a result of SCOTUS’s decision, the UFC’s ability to offer marquee fights that bring people into the city could give them more sway locally.
The other major concern with legalizing sports betting is the potential for fight fixing. For other major sports in the United States, player salaries already act as a deterrent to fixing outcomes whereas bottom-tier MMA fighters may find it reasonable to attempt to do so - an NBA player making $540K a year is less likely to throw a game than an undercard fighter making $10K to show and another $10K to win. Why fight straight up to only potentially win another 10 grand when instead you can take a dive and make an extra $50K? The UFC has already had some issues with the problem and the increased prevalence of sports betting will only increase the potential for that problem to grow.
On the whole, it remains to be seen exactly what legalizing sports betting will do to MMA and the UFC but we know for sure at least one person is happy with the Supreme Court’s decision.
One of the greatest days of my life! Kids are probably going to state school, though. https://t.co/QxZ9k1hziG— Jon Anik (@Jon_Anik) May 14, 2018
Did you literally weep with joy? Because that what I’m picturing pic.twitter.com/MbEMnjl2Qe— Jimmy Smith (@jimmysmithmma) May 14, 2018
Shortly followed by an inner monologue of ‘this could be trouble’...— Jon Anik (@Jon_Anik) May 14, 2018
Jon Anik has never been shy about his love for gambling and it’s safe to say that will only increase with Monday’s decision.
Iceman Returneth. Chuck Liddell announces that he’s coming out of retirement.
Bullying. In response to Chuck Liddell, Jon Jones says ‘come get it.’
5th Round. Raquel Pennington opens up about coach’s decision to not stop UFC 224 fight against Amanda Nunes.
Missed Fists. Reviewing some of the weekend’s best fights from the regional MMA scene.
Ramadan starts today which means there are a lot of top fighters who have to navigate that. This is an excellent video explaining it. Highly recommend.
BTS ahead of UFC Chile.
Borg on TMZ.
And Faber defending Pennington’s corner.
The MMA Hour. Interviews with Chuck, Raquel, Dern, Sonnen, and more.
Severe MMA. Discussing UFC 224, Bellator 199, and the upcoming UFC Chile card.
Bushido Talk. In-depth discussion of UFC 224: Nunes vs. Pennington.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
We did it.
#TitovsChuck3 soon to come! Let’s Go!!’— Tito Ortiz (@titoortiz) May 14, 2018
Jon Jones better watch out. He’s never faced someone who can match his eye poke game.
Old Chuck has been calling me out for years! I get it, I hold pretty much every record in the division. I normally try to respect my elders but if you want it come get it. Id literally fly you out to Albuquerque this weekend.— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) May 14, 2018
You might want to test the strength of that jaw before you take a bite you cant chew— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) May 14, 2018
In all seriousness @ChuckLiddell I appreciate your offer for a fight, but due to scheduling conflicts may not be able to fulfill till mid 2019 .— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) May 15, 2018
In the Upcoming months I have similarly lethal opponents in Ric Flair and George Foreman awaiting .
Big John knows.
A corners job is to be support for their fighter. That means you give advise on how to combat your opponent. Sometimes that means you give motivation & sometimes it means you take personal responsibility for their health & safety. When they say that’s it, It’s over, get them out https://t.co/FDsLiQLaLQ— Big John McCarthy (@JohnMcCarthyMMA) May 14, 2018
Down to Earth Phil.
Sometimes u have to make exceptions.$ I'm excited for this fight . I wish @CMPunk the best! But I understand.— Mark Coleman (@HammerHouseMMA) May 14, 2018
I understand too. If it was up to me, I'd be first fight on fight pass. Don't matter to me. Fans like to be outraged by stuff that doesn't matter. (Appreciate the support Mr. Coleman!!!!! You're truly the man)— Coach (@CMPunk) May 14, 2018
Sounds like GSP.
"NO FUCK**G LEGLOCK FLYING SH*T ! OK ?! " - the OG GSP— Olivier Aubin (@oliaubin) May 14, 2018
This took a turn.
Me trying to get a call from the @UFC matchmakers. #ShamelessBootyShot #ICanFightToo pic.twitter.com/4Fqf66lXqa— Angela Hill (@AngieOverkill) May 14, 2018
I wonder how well this photo would work for me if I posed exactly like this lol https://t.co/HcbEXaUbft— Aljamain Sterling (@FunkMaster_UFC) May 15, 2018
May 15, 2018
Congrats @ForrestGriffin on your induction to the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame! pic.twitter.com/t5oGckfIMN— UFC (@ufc) May 14, 2018
Jake Shields (32-9-1, 1 NC) vs. Ray Cooper III (13-5); PFL 3, July 5.
Abubakar Nurmagomedov (14-1) vs. Pavel Kusch (22-5); PFL 3, July 5.
Rick Story (19-9) vs. Yuri Villefort (11-5); PFL 3, July 5.
Shamil Gamzatov (11-0) vs. Eddie Gordon (8-4); PFL 3, July 5.
John Howard (25-13) vs. Gasan Umalatov (17-5-1); PFL 3, July 5.
Joao Zeferino (21-9) vs. Paul Bradley (23-8); PFL 3, July 5.
Bruno Santos (16-2) vs. Sadibou Sy (6-2); PFL 3, July 5.
Herman Terrado (15-3-1) vs. Magomed Magomedkerimov (18-5); PFL 3, July 5.
Rex Harris (10-3) vs. Andre Lobato (25-7); PFL 3, July 5.
Louis Taylor (14-4) vs. Anderson Goncalves (11-1); PFL 3, July 5.
Danillo Villefort (15-5) vs. Abusupiyan Magomedov (19-3); PFL 3, July 5.
Bojan Velickovic (15-6-1) vs. Jonatan Westin (10-2); PFL 3, July 5.
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
1998: Frank Shamrock submitted Jeremy Horn with a kneebar at UFC 17 to retain his light heavyweight title. This event was also the UFC debuts of Dan Henderson and Carlos Newton, as well as the MMA debut of Chuck Liddell. Perhaps most notably, this event is the first UFC where Jeff Blatnick insisted on using the term “mixed martial arts” to rebrand the sport to become more socially acceptable.
2010: Alistair Overeem defended his Strikeforce heavyweight championship with a first-round knockout of Brett Rogers at Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery.
2012: Chan Sung Jung submitted Dustin Poirier with a fourth-round D’Arce choke at UFC on Fuel TV 3 in one of the fights of the year.
Almost 20 years to the day since his professional MMA debut, Chuck Liddell has announced his return to fighting. Once again, The Morning Report Army has willed something into existence. With great power, comes great responsibility, y’all. We need to be careful how we wield this.
Take it easy and see y’all tomorrow.
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