How legalized sports betting may change disc golf

By Josh Woods ~

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Will sportsbooks like this one someday include disc golf? Photos by Jesse Wright and the Flight Record.

The Supreme Court just dropped a whopper of a ruling on the sports world. Last week it struck down a 1992 law against commercial sports betting in most states. According to experts, the door is now open for legalizing sports betting in America.

Although state legislation is still in play, the shifting legal landscape will likely produce a windfall in taxes for state governments and a major payday for big-time sports organizations, like the NBA. As Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban put it, “I think everyone that owns a top-four professional sports team saw the value of their team double.”

But the Supreme Court decision could, eventually, influence small, emerging sports as well. As book operators set up shop in broad daylight, they may grow quickly, specialize their services, and provide betting opportunities on a wide range of athletic events.

Given that disc golf media are still developing their live coverage of tournaments, the gamblification of disc golf is not going to happen any time soon. Yet, if betting did become possible, significant changes in the game would be inevitable.

On one hand, giving people an opportunity to place a bet on Ricky Wysocki or Paige Pierce would likely boost fan engagement and grow the audience for professional disc golf.

Not surprisingly, people who bet on sports really like watching them. For instance, per a Nielsen Sports study, one in four members of the NFL regular season audience is a sports bettor. More telling, sports bettors watched 47 percent of all minutes viewed.

In short, legalizing betting may someday help disc golf grow its fan base.

On the other hand, gambling could threaten the integrity of disc golf. Even the mere perception that someone’s big bet influenced a player’s throw during a tournament could sour fans and reduce viewership.

Ultimately, at this early stage, the effects of legalizing betting on disc golf are anyone’s guess. So, what’s your guess? What would happen if fans could bet on disc golf? Would it be a good thing? Please comment below.


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Parked is underwritten in part by a grant from the Professional Disc Golf Association.

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One thought on “How legalized sports betting may change disc golf

  1. Gambling in sports is a nuanced topic which deserves a nuanced response. This is not it.

    In my opinion, gambling has serious potential to ruin sports, including disc golf. Betting pollutes sport by distorting the incentives of sport to both players and fans. It certainly weakens fandom, as viewers trade emotional investment in teams and players for financial ones. And in a country who’s people struggle to pay for things as basic as health care, allowing states to legalize sports betting is—pardon the pun—a bad bet. Any tax windfall to states who legalize sports betting will be offset by other costs, including a rise in crime and increased debt and default rates, to name only two.

    If serious sports betting is what will grow disc golf, then I don’t want to be a disc golfer.

    Liked by 1 person

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