NASCAR Set to Benefit from Sports Betting Legalization?

Front view of auto racing race cars racing on a track with motion blur.


After the US Supreme Court decision in May to overturn the 1992 federal ban on sports betting, major sports organizations were forced to rethink their views on sports betting. NASCAR is one of the organizations looking into the potential of this sector to see how it can benefit.

Sports leagues and sports betting

Most of the major sports organizations in the United States were vehemently opposed to sports betting legalization. They believed that it would negatively affect the integrity of their sporting events. They were also concerned that gambling operators would be making a lot of revenue off the league’s intellectual property and not providing any form of compensation in return.

That’s why the NFL, NHL, NBA, and the NCAA battled to prevent the Supreme Court decision from being made, but their efforts proved to be fruitless. Now each state must decide whether to legalize sports betting, so these organizations have turned their attention to the states.

Lobbying dollars are being used to protect the interests of these sports organizations. It seems that most of this money is not aimed at preventing the introduction of sports betting bills, they are concerned with getting their dues.

The NBA and NHL, for example, have been pushing hard to obtain so-called integrity fees. Such a fee would be a portion of all sports bets placed on events under their jurisdiction. It is claimed that the money would be used to ensure the integrity of those events.

While integrity fees have been debated in various states, no sports betting bill has included them. The closest a state came to doing so was New York before its legislative session closed without passage of a sports betting bill.

NASCAR and sports betting

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) has not been talked about much in connection with sports betting. NASCAR is a fan favorite in most Southern states.

Now that NASCAR is entering the playoff stage of its season, there is talk about how it could benefit from the legalization of sports betting. Since May, four states have started accepting sports bets, and another few have already passed bills.

NASCAR has a narrow audience and is trying to broaden its appeal. Over the years, on-track betting has been suggested, and there is more interest in this idea since the Supreme Court decision.

Drivers think that nationwide on-track betting could do wonders for the sport. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one of the names synonymous with NASCAR. The recently retired driver and current NBC analyst said to USA Today: “I think it would create more excitement, bring more attention, more people in attendance. I can see it having a ton of positives.”

Another high-profile proponent of race wagering is seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson. He believes it would give a great boost to NASCAR without having any adverse effects. Also speaking to USA Today, Johnson said: “I think it is a great idea. It has been going on illegally. So making it legalized is a good thing for everybody. We have seen what fantasy football has done for football where you can have a casual fan have an interest in a sport and it turning into something more. The betting is a real opportunity for that.”

Thanks to mobile gaming in Nevada, racegoers at certain events can already place bets while they are at the tracks. There would be a lot of additional interest if on-site betting stations were implemented.

Nielsen Sports issued a report in August 2018 showed that sports betting will lead to more viewers of sporting events, will bring younger people into the audience, and will reduce illegal gambling.

In February, the telecast of the Daytona 500, which is NASCAR’s highlight event, had a 5.1 Nielsen rating. This is the lowest rating the race has received since these numbers have been tracked; that’s one catalyst for NASCAR to look for ways to increase interest in the sport.

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