What effect does the deflated football scandal, more popularly known as “DeflateGate,” have on legalized sports betting in places such as Las Vegas and on the Internet?
Patriots Under NFL Investigation
A spokesman for the National Football League (NFL) has confirmed that the NFL is investigating the New England Patriots following allegations that the team intentionally used deflated footballs during their massive 45-7 winning game over the Indianapolis Colts in the recent American Football Conference (AFC) Championship Game. It was that winning game that brought the Patriots to the Super Bowl.
According to Bob Kravitz of WTHR in Indianapolis, who first reported the story, a referee removed a ball from play during the AFC Championship Game and weighed it during an unusual mid-game delay. The delay occurred during New England’s first drive of the second half and ended with the referee swapping the ball out of the game.
Should the probe confirm the allegations that the balls were intentionally deflated to gain an advantage, the Patriots stand a chance of losing draft picks, Kravitz noted. This is not the first time the Patriots have been involved in game scandals. In 2008, the Patriots received a large fine and were docked a first-round draft pick for their involvement in so-called “SpyGate.”
The intentional deflation of footballs is not unknown. Prior to this, allegations of ball deflating were made in 2012, at the college level, at the University of Southern California (USC). In that case, a student manager was dismissed following allegations that he deflated balls during a game.
Significance of Football Inflation and the NFL Football Rules
When a football is improperly deflated, the ability to grip the football is significantly improved. This results in the ball being easier to hold, catch, and throw, all of which assist the offense.
Under the NFL’s rules, footballs must be inflated between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch. The two teams provide 12 primary balls each for testing before play. The 24 balls are then tested by the referee two hours and 15 minutes prior to kick-off. Of note is that each team uses its own balls when on offense.
Legal Online Betting
According to LegalBettingOnline, sports betting is the predicting of “sports results while placing a wager on the outcome according to an agreed upon set of rules or laws.” Wagers may be made against another bettor, a “house,” a “bookie,” or another entity. Legal forms of online sports betting may vary from state to state and by country, with Internet betting having become a multi-million-dollar industry. Sports betting is the most popular form of legalized online betting. In the United States, sports gambling is not permitted on the federal level, with Nevada among the few states that permit such betting. In fact, the American Gaming Association (AGA) notes that only Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana permit any form of sports betting. Most of the legal sports betting, however, occurs in Las Vegas. Although Nevada only permits bets verifiable in the box score, online and offshore betting does not have the same restrictions.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) indicates that individual states may “determine their own destiny regarding online gambling”; however, “sports betting seems to be the exception to this rule.” In the U.S., the only legal option for online sportsbook wagering is through legally licensed and regulated online sportsbooks, which are located offshore and “operated under the regulatory oversight of a governing jurisdiction which has already legalized online sports betting for their territory, legally allowing them to offer their services to bettors around the world, including those in the United States.”
In 2014, legal bettors spent $119.4 million on wagers, according to The Week, as well as so-called “prop bets.” This year, gamblers will likely pick from more than 500 various “prop bets,” such as what the opening coin toss will be or which team will score first. One can expect that these prop bets might now involve DeflateGate. For example, how many times during a broadcast will deflated footballs be mentioned? Props may involve statistical research, historical analysis, and expectations of market behavior. The first-ever estimates released by the AGA in January 2015 revealed that while Americans make $100 million in legal bets on the Super Bowl annually, $3.8 billion in illegal bets are made. CitizenLink notes that about 86 percent of Americans have gambled at least once during their lives.
DeflateGate clearly has ramifications that extend far beyond the game, including the impact on legal, sanctioned betting operations and on the economy itself, in the form of lost jobs, revenue, and taxes