NASCAR Should Rush to Embrace Gambling

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), May 20, 2018 | Go to article overview

NASCAR Should Rush to Embrace Gambling


The United States Supreme Court this week overturned a decades-old law that essentially limited sports gambling to one state.

With the landmark decision, it will now be up to individual states and sports leagues to regulate sports betting as they see fit.

And the immediate reaction to Monday's ruling was: How will this affect the NFL? And the NBA? And MLB?

That's natural, given the high profiles of those leagues. But you could argue the sport best-positioned to capitalize on the legalization of sports gambling is NASCAR.

Professional racing has a multitude of well-documented issues -top sponsors leaving the sport, the retirement of many elite and recognizable drivers, a declining and rapidly aging fan base -that won't be solved with the addition of gambling. But this legal decision does open the door for NASCAR to make substantial changes to improve its overall health and standing among sports fans.

Here are the four ways NASCAR can best make use of the legalization of sports gambling:

1. The big picture is great, but don't forget about the little things.

When you think 'NASCAR' and 'legal gambling,' the first thing that comes to mind is betting on who wins each race. NASCAR already has a fantasy sports games that allows fans to do something of that sort. Adding a monetary element would surely increase overall viewership for NASCAR (as it would any sport), something NASCAR desperately needs.

But NASCAR's biggest issue with fans in recent years is the pace -races that last four, five hours, sometimes longer. Simply betting on winners wouldn't force people to watch races; it would force them to check the results afterward. Instead, NASCAR should allow fans, especially those in attendance, to gamble throughout the contest. Take a brief intermission after each stage, for instance -Isn't that what the stages are for, anyway? -and let fans scramble to on-track, parimutuel betting booths to make new picks for the next segment. It's a way to increase viewership and engagement throughout the race, not just at the end. Win-win.

2. Incorporate gambling into NASCAR's brand.

For years, fans have lamented the loss of NASCAR's 'culture.' You know: the rough-and-tough attitudes, the grit, the Southern charm, the partying around the track and so forth. …

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