New Jersey Allows Physical Skill-Based Gambling

Free Throw TournamentAre we fast approaching a new era when gambling on sports will be legal in all over the United States, not just Nevada?  When historians look back at this time, they may likely point to this event at a lone casino in New Jersey as a turning point.

It doesn’t seem like a big deal: allow gamblers to bet against one another in games of skill. In this case, making free throws.

So, like poker, contestants are pitted against one another instead of against the house. Simple enough.  The basic scenario at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa would be that contestants would pay $20 to compete in single 90-second rounds for the right to play in a 16 spot bracket-type format. When it’s all over,  the top four finishers will get to split a whopping $10,000, and the winner getting $5,000 all to himself. Not a bad return for an investment of $20! (And no, this is not likely to be something you would see me participate in.)

Why is that significant? It would be the first time that gamblers would be able to wager on their own physical skills, as opposed to their mental abilities in games such as poker or roulette, or just plain chance as with slot machines.  We’re not sure what the logical next step is (three point shots? throwing a football through a hoop?) but you know that if this takes off sports betting in other forms will immediately follow. It will also bring an entirely different clientele into the casinos: ones who may not have the money to play high stakes games of chance, but who could scrape together a few bucks to enter a tournament.  After that, the next step will be schools and clinics where someone will teach you how to win at these types of games and an entire industry will be born.

When you combine this news with the increased growth in daily fantasy sports (and the fact that the major professional sports leagues are investing in the companies that run them) there is a clear trend toward making gambling on sports more mainstream and ultimately more acceptable.  Will it happen overnight? Not likely, but with the commissioners of the NBA and MLB now behind legalizing it, you can bet it won’t be long before it happens.