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William Hill and Sports Betting in the US

18 August 2013 by Devon Chappell

williamhillWith the recent increase of interest within the US sports wagering market, online gambling enthusiasts in New Jersey (and perhaps beyond) have a future that seems bright. Well, at least maybe.

William Hill US, the Nevada-based auxiliary of Britain’s largest bookmaker, has displayed some serious success in New Jersey with its recent sponsorship of the 46th running of the $1 million William Hill Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park last month.

William Hill, known affectionately as Will Hill to those who bet, says that its interest in New Jersey reaches far beyond this one event. The large bookmaker will become the racetrack’s exclusive betting provider if New Jersey’s effort to legalize sports betting succeeds (as we all hope it eventually will despite the four professional sports leagues and NCAA being sternly opposed to it).

Until legalization, Will Hill offers a free-play (wager for fun) option for sports wagering to US citizens interested in checking things out. William Hill now runs a sportsbook, where participants can pick NFL games against the spread without wagering real money, while still being eligible to earn prizes.

As mentioned, the four main pro sporting leagues in the US are all opposed to wagering on sports for real money whether online or not because they jointly feel that sporting events will become susceptible to cheating and fixing. This is certainly a good argument, and yet what professional sports league hasn’t experienced its fair share of scandals?

As it stands, at least two of the four top pro sports leagues in the US have been raining-down massive scandals, ranging from high crimes committed by players to several cheating scandals spawned from extensive steroid use. Proponents of sports betting claim these sports are no more susceptible to game fixing than they currently are anyway.

With no pre-legalization swaying of regulators in mind, Will Hill has firmly stated that if betting on sports in New Jersey becomes legal, it fully intends to make a considerable investment in building a Las Vegas-style race and sportsbook in the state to accommodate wagers.

This is where we start to see the political wrangling about. Sure, you have the pro leagues firmly against the legalization of sports wagering – crying fowl and displaying major concern over corruption to the tune of game fixing and diminished reputation. And you also have big brands like Will Hill touting huge would-be revenue promises and a shot to the economy, which New Jersey so desperately needs. But a promise is just that. A contract is binding.

The fact that online casino action starts in a few short months in New Jersey will certainly open the sports wagering issue further. The opposition to wagering on sports from the pro leagues is not just limited to New Jersey, so this one will be an uphill battle, indeed.

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