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Sports media: Gambling media is coming, and it will be everywhere

On May 14, the Supreme Court opened the door to legalized sports gambling nationwide, overturning a federal law that banned it in most states. | John Locher/AP

On May 14, the Supreme Court opened the door to legalized sports gambling nationwide, overturning a federal law that banned it in most states. | John Locher/AP

The Score program director Mitch Rosen didn’t have a crystal ball, but he sure looked prescient.

On May 3, the station announced it would air one-minute segments on local-sports gambling from the Vegas Stats & Information Network during the “McNeil & Parkins Show.” On May 14, the Supreme Court opened the door to legalized sports gambling nationwide, overturning a federal law that banned it in most states.

“There was a lot of speculation that it was going to come close in the Supreme Court,” Rosen said. “We wanted to be ahead of the wave. This, to me, is not about back-room gambling or bookmakers. This is almost the sabermetrics of wagering, of fantasy sports, and, especially partnering with VSiN, it legitimizes what that whole category is.

“Was I clairvoyant? No. Did I trust the people at VSiN and their credibility and have a gut feeling that the Supreme Court was going to open up the floodgates? Yeah.”

VSiN, a national network devoted to sports gambling that can be heard on SiriusXM and streamed on its website, beat everyone to the punch when it debuted in February 2017. But others now are looking to join the fray.

So what content can Chicago-area listeners and viewers expect from mainstream media outlets? Those in the industry say it’s still very early in the process. Rosen said he’s uncertain whether The Score will air a gambling show, but it’s clear that new partnerships — hence, new sales opportunities — are on the horizon.

“I think this will be a new venue for clients and partners to help sell their brand and grow their brand through our avenues, through our digital and on-air platforms,” Rosen said.

After the Supreme Court ruling, ESPN 1000 began a daily segment on “Waddle & Silvy” called “Wanna Bet?” Even before the ruling, the station had guest handicappers on each of its shows during football season. Now their involvement could reach another level.

“I do see more programming being added, locally, nationally and everywhere else,” ESPN 1000 program director Adam Delevitt said. “We continue to work on many angles in that area.”

The TV networks don’t have anything on the air yet, but ESPN’s new streaming service, ESPN+, is showing “I’ll Take That Bet,” which is produced by The Action Network, a media group that provides premium content and analytics. NBC Sports Chicago said it’s still evaluating. Regional sports networks might speed up the process once bets are taken in their state.

Newspapers also are looking to aim content toward gamblers. The very paper in your hands (or on your screen) will keep gamblers in mind with its daily coverage.

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“We won’t be covering sports gambling, but we will be taking the heightened interest in sports gambling into consideration as we plan coverage each day,” Sun-Times sports editor Chris De Luca said. “The growth in sports gambling will mean a growing interest in the sports news that means the most to those gamblers.”

The New York Post also is partnering with VSiN, which will have a daily spot in the paper, in addition to two features each week.  

The gambling media is coming, and you’ll meet a new cast of characters. The big questions are what it will look like, how successful it will be and, of course, how much money you’ll make from it.

Remote patrol

  • Notre Dame football radio play-by-play announcer Don Criqui and analyst Allen Pinkett won’t return next season. Criqui, 78, had called the Irish since 2006 and Pinkett, 54, since 2001. Their departures follow Notre Dame’s move to a new rights holder, JMI Sports. The Irish can be heard locally on ESPN 1000.
  • Blackhawks TV analyst Eddie Olczyk joined David Kaplan’s show “Kap & Co.” on ESPN 1000 this week. Olczyk will appear twice a week, generally Mondays and Fridays.
  • White Sox fans still longing for A.J. Pierzynski can catch him at 6 p.m. Saturday on Fox. He’ll join Kevin Burkhardt and David Cone on the call of the Royals-Astros game.