The Choosy Beggar

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Gary Bettman is a sniveling dweeb of the highest order.

The NHL commissioner took a shot at NBA commissioner Adam Silver after his counterpart went to bat for legalized, regulated nationwide sports betting in a New York Times column recently.

Sports may “become a vehicle for gambling,” Bettman pearl-clutched, before conjuring a future where people may be rooting for the point spread instead of the home team.

No shit! You don’t say, Gary?

What a terrible potential outcome—that people may have some interest that would draw them to arenas at the withered ends of your husk of a fourth-place league in places like Miami, Charlotte and Phoenix other than the phenomenally shitty hockey showcased there on a night-in, night-out basis.

And, my stars, sports as a vehicle for gambling you say!?

Sports gambling is, essentially, the last growth sector in the Nevada’s gaming industry—the Silver State being the one place where single-game betting is legalized and regulated. More people than ever are betting on sports—Nevada casinos recorded $3.6 billion in sports bets in 2013, according to research from UNLV. It’s the highest total the state’s ever seen, even in the halcyon pre-Great Recession days when people thought massive casino resorts in Reno and North Las Vegas were great ideas. Hell, a group trying to legalize single-game betting in Canada of all places estimates that the 35 million person country has illegally wagered $38 billion on sports since 2012. One assumes some portion of that number are non-sports fans and tiny children who cannot bet, making the more than $1,000 wagered per person number all the more astonishing.

The thing about that Nevada number is that’s a tiny fraction—some say as little as 1 percent—of sports gambling overall in the U.S., meaning most of that nearly $360-plus billion is passing through the hands of offshore gaming sites and local bookies annually.

Gary, sports is already a vehicle for gambling. It has been since people liked horse racing and Shoeless Joe took a bag full of money, and likely back to when Themistocles was questionable for Saturday’s big discus toss at the O.G. Olympics.

Your shitty product—which includes three franchises that cannot keep their stadiums more than three-quarters full—is beamed four time zones back to the Maritime Provinces at 3:45 a.m. specifically because gamblers are the only people up watching overtime hockey after the rest of the civilized world goes the hell to sleep. Your league routinely gets embarrassed by the NBA in the postseason—where Silver’s league out-rates yours 5-1 during any given series.

You’re biting the hand that feeds you when you oppose the expansion of gambling, and Gary, nobody feeds your pasty ass all that often to begin with.

Perhaps most audaciously, you’re doing some talking about expanding your league (in a rich bit of irony, to Las Vegas!) to include more television markets, probably specifically for that purpose, as six of your last ten expansion/relocation markets are in the bottom third of league-wide attendance. Who do you think is going to tune in if you add four more teams to an already watered-down league? Marc-Andre Fleury farts his way into and out of the playoffs every year and got EXTENDED in your league.

You should welcome the Taliban’s ratings if they watched the Viagra commercials you run against half your drivel.

Legalized gambling, for you more than anyone, number four, should be viewed as a godsend. It’s a vehicle you should definitely think about leasing, at the very least, because soccer is hot on your tail and it’s a long fall down the North American sports popularity contest after that day.

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