Mark Cuban Predicts Sports Gambling Will Be Legalized by the U.S. Congress
In a recent Fortune Magazine interview, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said that legal sports betting was inevitable in the United States. Cuban was discussing his recent investments in “regular” sports gambling and eSports gaming companies.
Cuban said his investments in eSports gambling platform Unikrn was a solid investment, because it would become a major provider once the US government legalized their games. But he also hinted at a wider acceptance of sports betting in the public, as well as an NBA presence in the emerging market.
Critical of District Attorneys
In his comments, the billionaire had a few choice words for the opponents of legalized sports betting. He was critical of overreaching district attorneys, who often are accused of finding high-profile cases to gain public support, especially in election years. Cuban said of regulated sports betting, “It’s inevitable. It will take some time for the courts to overcome the grandstanding by a few district attorneys, but once that happens I think we will see a slow but sure availability of gambling across the country.”
“The bottom line is that it will create needed tax revenue that states will want.”
Cuban also skewered states which have anti-gambling laws, which he sees as outdated and restrictive. The discussion with Fortune covered a number of areas, including both eSports and the wider subject of fantasy sports gambling. The Mavericks owner said, “It [fantasy sports] has made watching our games on TV more fun. Hopefully, the stupidity and hypocrisy in a few states will be cleared up in the courts shortly.”
Conventional Arguments on Gaming Laws
One of the arguments made by proponents of legal sports betting is people impose their own moral views on gamblers, when all those gamblers are doing is spending their own hard-earned money. They argue that a free, capitalist society should not impose restrictions on people’s spending habits. Those who prefer anti-gambling laws point to the social costs of problem gambling, when it robs families of the money they need for a comfortable life. Opponents of sports gambling point to the corrupting effect is has on sports and their fans, because people are more concerned with covering a point spread than seeing their favorite team win. Still others suggest rampant gambling might lead to point-shaving and game-fixing, thus undermining the integrity of the game.
Like him or hate him, everyone recognizes Mark Cuban is a self-made man. Like most self-made men, he prefers open laws which place responsibility on people, instead of the government. From reading his comments, one gets that Mark Cuban is somewhat beyond traditional political definitions. Gaming laws are inverted, by their very nature.
On the gambling issue, the roles of politicians are often reversed.Republican lawmakers who espouse a dislike of big government and prefer individual liberties suddenly want a big government approach to gambling. Democratic politicians who want government intervention in economic matters and discuss Washington’s role in the social fabric suddenly want to keep the government out of gambling matters. American politics is more complicated than a strict-party vote on gambling, but gambling is often an issue on which legislators must twist and contort their usual logic.
Cuban’s Investment in Unikrn
Mark Cuban’s vision is much more expansive than many gaming advocates. He sees a day when people gamble on more than just the traditional American sports. He recently invested in the Washington-based eSports company, Unikrn, which was founded in 2013 by a former Microsoft executive.
“Esports” is the name given to the professional video game tour. The world’s top gamers compete in events like League of Legends for prize money. These people become famous in the eSports niche, much like quartbacks, shortshops, and point guards become famous in their sports. The gaming community also watches these events as they take place in real time, like viewers watch the NFL, Major League Baseball, or the NBA.
Gambling on eSports
Unikrn is one of a number of companies which takes bets on these eSporting events. Most of those companies are foreign, because it is illegal to gamble on eSports in the United States. Unikrn takes bets from overseas gamblers, but only allows Americans to play for Unicoins, a virtual currency used to buy merchandise in the Unikrn online store. But the companies founders — and Mark Cuban — see a day when American residents will be able to do more than contest for merchandise.
About his Unikrn investment, Mark Cuban said, “Gambling is available in more than 100 countries. Combine that with the explosive growth of eSports and I saw it as a great investment.”
Playing League of Legends
Mark Cuban does not have the time to be a master gamer himself, but he’s got skills. Back in November, Mark Cuban took part in a widely-publicized eSports event for the Cybersmile Foundation. He played in an exhibition League of Legends event against Intel CEO Brian Krzanich. The eSports match, which took place at the Intel Extreme Masters event in San Jose, California, raised $38,000 for charity. When asked about the battle with Krzanich, the billionaire said, “It was a blast. I wish I had enough time to practice and get good at League of Legends. It’s a fun sport to play.
In his discussion with John Gaudiosi of Fortune, Cuban said he thought the National Basketball Association had a lot to gain from embracing the eSports sports betting niche, which could include competitions of NBA2K 16. Cuban said, “I think the NBA will work with our partners to extend our games into the eSports world. There is a lot of room for us to grow there.”
While Mark Cuban is not the ultimate authority on gaming laws in the United States, he has made a lot of money predicting where technology and sports markets are headed. He is one more voice (and a loud voice) saying legalized sports gambling on the federal level is only a matter of time in the United States.
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