Bets Are On as NASCAR Plans New Rules for 2019

Race car in front angled view speeding down a track

Good news arrived for fans of NASCAR this week when its president, Steve Phelps, revealed that the series will implement new rules and guidelines about betting in 2019.

The announcement comes after Dover International Speedway became the first NASCAR track to allow betting on the sport on-site. NASCAR does not prevent drivers or teams from betting on races.

Delaware launched full-scale sports betting in June, just three weeks after the US Supreme Court struck down a federal law that banned betting on sports. Phelps, who was recently promoted to president of the sporting body, said he expects the new rules to include guidelines on betting by drivers or team members.

Clarifying matters for teams and drivers

NASCAR’s president said of the planned rule changes: “The way the rulebook looks today, I think the teams and the drivers understand what it looks like today, and I think we’ll clarify for ’19 with more specific language in it. For right now, there’ll be betting here. They have a kiosk here; you can bet inside. We’ll study and see how that goes, but I think we’ll have some rules in place for sponsorship, for what betting looks like, and continue to see what happens in the landscape overall.”

In the short time on-site betting has been permitted, gaming operators have made the most of the new outlet, with banners reading “Sports Betting: Vegas Style” above the betting kiosks at the racetrack. Witnesses said punters were lining up double-file and over 20 deep to place bets. Arguably, the novelty of on-site betting could be fueling the initial surge; over the coming months, the true value of the new market will be measured.

Wide range of potential products

The products that betting companies can offer for NASCAR are varied. So far, on-site kiosks have been offering standard odds to win bets, but fans could also place bets on who would be in first place at Lap 120 and at Lap 240. Bets were also being placed on head-to-head outcomes and prop bets on the number of caution flags that would be flown during a race, for example. The varied range of products appeared to appeal to punters. One fan told the Washington Post, “I’m going for the oddball stuff — the props.”

Chris Powell of Las Vegas Motor Speedway has praised the move to bring betting on-site, saying “It could add a new element of excitement — whether it’s wagering on who’s going to win or who’ll win the first segment or a one-on-one bet, just like in golf, where it might be Bubba Watson against Tiger Woods.”

Sponsorship potential in NASCAR

There has also been talk of a potential new category of sponsorship for teams and tracks if NASCAR were to lift the current ban on deals with online gambling companies. The potential new revenue would likely be welcomed by teams and NASCAR itself following the recent drop in viewers and the fact that several corporate sponsors have cut their ties to the sport.

NASCAR has put together a task force to determine how legal betting could impact the sport and a decision on sponsorship deals and on-site gambling will likely come once the results of the study are in. For now, though, it looks like an exciting new addition for teams, drivers, and fans alike, even though NASCAR will need to look into realigning some of its regulations to fit the new landscape.