I am on record as mostly supporting the legalization of sports betting. My view was always “It’s gonna happen regardless, may as well legalize it so you can regulate it and institute protections” and I still stand by that idea. But it is hard to ignore that we are right now living through the unfortunate growing pains of that decision and it might get even worse before it gets better.

The level of advertising for what is an addictive vice is inexcusable. Children and anyone who struggles with gambling addictions trying to quit are now being bombarded with sportsbook ads on average once per commercial break on every fucking game. Leagues are literally in bed with many of these companies, raising a lot of questions about the integrity of what is happening. Players are being caught up in betting scandals because nobody has quite figured out how to regulate this now legal act among the very athletes playing the sports. It’s all so messy that I can understand anyone who thinks this was a terrible idea and wants to revert back to how it was at a minimum.

On top of the very serious problems, there has also been a rise in casual annoyance! Is it just me, or has a subset of very annoying fantasy guy turned into very annoying gambling guys?

It feels like for a certain kind of fantasy guy (not all, but a certain kind of guy), they were essentially playing fantasy sports as gambling. Which in a sense it always has been. You have control over who you select to be on your team and who you play every week in matchups so with intelligence you can effectively give yourself advantages, but you still ultimately have no control over how the players do. You could tell these particular guys because they were always in multiple leagues based around a winning pot and they were so extremely proud of every good move they made and really bitter when injuries happened. More casual players tend to be in work leagues or leagues with their friends and mostly talk about how they did against their buddy that week. The really irritating fantasy guys would brag about their bench or their trades and show you their lineup as if you had any reason to give a shit.

Then it was like sports betting becoming accepted just…cut out the middleman and let them do exactly what they were really doing all along. Now they can’t stop talking about what bets they made. Try to bring up something that happened in a game? Oh yeah wow I hit the over on that one. Watching a defensive struggle? They get mad as the score doesn’t go up. They root for guys to get sacks and catch touchdowns purely based around them having money on that line in the same way they used to root for particular guys to catch touchdowns because they needed the fantasy points. It’s more…pure now, but that makes it even worse. They never seem to want to talk about the actual game. The sport itself, the plays and standings, the strategy, the majesty…none of that is important. What’s important is TJ Watt gets a sack so I can make 50 bucks. I have found myself instinctively rooting for all of these people to lose every bet they make so that now both of us in this conversation can be miserable.

I guess I must leave this same advice that I used to have for fantasy guys. Nobody cares about your bets but you. If you find a fellow like yourself who does, go to town and have a ball. The rest of us? We don’t care. There are a lot more fun things to discuss than whatever you have money riding on and most of us would prefer to talk about any of them.  Most of us are probably even secretly rooting against your bets because it’s satisfying to see gambling guys lose.