Wizards' Alternative TV Broadcast to Focus on In-Game Gambling

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 20: A general floor view of the Washington Wizards logo before the game against the Toronto Raptors in Game Three of Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs on April 20, 2018 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Gambling is becoming more mainstream among sports fans and television audiences, and the Washington Wizards' local broadcast will reportedly reflect that during Friday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

David Purdum of ESPN.com and John Ourand of SportsBusiness Daily reported the NBC Sports Washington Plus feed will feature an alternate telecast of the game with a free contest featuring a $500 prize and betting information and statistics on the screen.

It is the first of eight such broadcasts that will be produced during the 2018-19 campaign.

"Combining the excitement of live Wizards games with engaging predictive gaming and data feeds will deliver a very entertaining experience for viewers, from first-time gaming players to savvy sports bettors," NBC Sports Washington general manager Damon Phillips said in a press release. "The level of interest from fans, partners and sponsors in this area continues to increase, so we are pleased to offer this compelling product this season."

It is notable this is happening with the Wizards, as Darren Rovell of the Action Network reported in December the Washington D.C. Council voted to legalize sports gambling.

Rovell pointed out Wizards and Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis "dreams of turning Capital One Arena into a sportsbook."

The decision came after the United States Supreme Court overturned a statute preventing states outside of Nevada from offering sports gambling last May; and Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia have all opened sportsbooks since.

Professional sports leagues have also made a move toward gambling, as the NBA agreed to provide real-time betting data to sportsbooks and announced it was officially partnering with MGM Resorts.

What's more, the NHL and MLB also partnered with MGM in recent months.

There is an audience of sports viewers who are primarily tuning in for gambling purposes, especially as it becomes legal in more areas and enters the mainstream. NBC Sports Washington has recognized as much and is taking what Zach Leonsis, the senior vice president of the group that owns the Wizards, called "the 1.0 version of where we're ultimately going."

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