Tom Sorensen

Gambling on sports is risky. So is everyday life. Here are a few tips to think about.

Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, issued a statement this week about gambling. He said that protecting the integrity of the sport would guide his league’s betting philosophy.
Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, issued a statement this week about gambling. He said that protecting the integrity of the sport would guide his league’s betting philosophy. AP

Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, issued a statement this week about gambling. He said that protecting the integrity of the sport would guide his league’s betting philosophy.

Speaking of betting, what are the odds that a team signs Eric Reid, the son of a pastor, a man with a charitable foundation, and a very good safety? A former San Francisco 49er, Reid has for two seasons taken a knee besides San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the national anthem. He’s a free agent.

The Supreme Court ruled last week that states are free to decide whether betting on athletic events will be permitted. In that only six states lack a lottery, most states will permit gambling.

When was the last time a state said: “Yeah, betting will generate a lot of money for us. But we have all the money we need. Thanks for asking.”

Astute gamblers have an opportunity to make money. For the states, making money will be a lock.

Every season, sports books offer NFL futures bets. You can bet now on how many games you think your team, or somebody else’s team, will win. As you know, it’s not about how good your team is. It’s about how good the betting public believes your team is.

The early line favors the New England Patriots. You can shop around and try this book and that, but the Patriots generally are favored to win 11.5 games next season. Nobody else goes that high.

At the other end of the scale, the Cleveland Browns’ end, the Arizona Cardinals are favored to win 5.5 games. So is Cleveland.

The New Orleans Saints top the NFC South at 9.5 games. At the bottom are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 6.5. The Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons are favored to win nine games. Are you going to the bet the under or the over on the Panthers?

You also can bet on the number of interceptions that Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback Johnny Manziel will throw next season. The over-under is 11½. That’s for Hamilton’s 18-game season, not for one game.

Nobody knows how betting will manifest itself as sports and states attempt to exert control. But we will see betting, and we’ll see it in South Carolina and North Carolina. My bet is that South Carolina will get there first.

Whether gambling is evil or not, you make the call. Walking down a dark street is a gamble. Arranging for a cameraman at Spectrum Arena to show your marriage proposal on the scoreboard is a gamble (why didn’t you tell me you were going to say “no?”). Driving north from Charlotte on I-77 during rush hour is a gamble. The gamble is whether you’ll get home by dark. But you knew that before you moved to Cornelius, Huntersville or Mooresville.

Be interesting to see how gambling arrives. Will you place a bet on your phone? Will there be gambling shops in the streets or at the stadium? Will Las Vegas-style gambling come to the hinterlands?

Have you ever been to a Las Vegas sports book? It’s like Walt Disney World for adults, except you’re Goofy. Lights blink, TV screens flash, and drinks are distributed free.

Some tips: Don’t bet what you can’t afford to lose, do your research, trust your instincts and, oh yeah, don’t compromise the integrity of the NFL.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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