NBA Las Vegas Summer League Is Good News For Legal Sports Betting

NBA Las Vegas Summer League Is Good News For Legal Sports Betting?

The Las Vegas NBA Summer League, bolstered by the hype surrounding legalized sports betting and Lonzo Ball both, saw record attendance and popularity this season. Last year, the Summer League yielded a then-record 108, 931 paying customers at the gates over the event’s week and a half, which has been eclipsed by nearly 20 percent with 127,843 attendees this season.

Obviously, because the NBA Summer League takes place in Las Vegas, this popularity with fans has also translated into popularity with bettors. While action on overseas legal sportsbooks like Bovada and BetOnline has not been measured, Las Vegas – the only place in America where gambling on sports is (nominally) legal – has released some preliminary statistics. These suggest that sports betting is growing in popularity at a substantial pace, with the overall “handle” (the total amount of bets taken by volume, not dollar amount) up around 40 percent year-over-year.

That’s very good news for Las Vegas casinos and sportsbooks, but the main takeaway for them comes not in the form of increased bets, but in the form of bet types wagered. Straight win-loss moneyline bets and full-game bets didn’t have as much upward momentum, but bettors seemed extremely interested in creative futures and in-game betting, which showed nearly double the action of last year. Indeed, in-game options seem to be set to expand across more sports at more books, and these could very well invigorate the industry to even loftier heights.

And it’s not just USA online sportsbooks that are poised to benefit from these revelations. If implemented properly (as seems to be the case so far in Las Vegas), legal sports betting in the US needn’t raise concerns over the “integrity of the game” or any other betting scandals. Instead, as the NBA Summer League has shown even with this unforeseen influx of gambling action, proper regulatory oversight better preempts abuse than forcing sportsbooks to operate in the underground. Better transparency – which is only possible with legalization – leads to fewer instances of fraud and general malfeasance in the sports world as a whole. Still, the NFL and NHL are overly concerned about the presence of betting kiosks in arenas themselves, but any “damaging” aspect of this has been proved doubly moot by the facts that (1) such kiosks haven’t been ruining NBA Summer League games and that (2) smartphones are a thing.

Even the NBA itself has come out on top with this unexpected little experiment. The Las Vegas NBA Summer League makes Adam Silver’s pro-legalization/pro-gambling stance that much more convincing and prescient, and it’s also proved that Lonzo Ball can still somehow sell tickets despite all the nonsense his game-forfeiting diva dad has piled onto his shoulders. The kid is so popular, in fact, that 16 percent of all the betting action this Summer League has been placed on the Lakers.

Which makes sense -- Lakers fans know that if they want to buy Lonzo’s shoe, they’re going to need some extra cash.