It has been nearly impossible to ignore the hyperbolic growth of sports betting in America. Sports matches are inundated with advertisements from sportsbooks, there has been a de facto arms race between a few of the bigger players, and most prominent sports talking heads on digital platforms have had sponsorships from betting platforms.
Now we know that the sportsbook at the TPC Scottsdale is set to open this fall. While this is certainly a time of the signs and probably somewhat avoidable, we can’t help but want to take a step back and see if this progress is actually progress, or an unfortunate reversion to an overall negative.
Sports betting has been on fire from a business perspective in the last few years, with a whopping 72.4% increase in revenue in the US compared to 2021’s record year. Considering Arizona’s status as a state that is business-friendly and somewhat antagonistic to regulations, it was clear that it was destined to be a place that would be comfortable with legalized sports betting. And considering the course’s history as being host to golf’s biggest party, it is only natural that betting would find a home there.
Will it be successful? For DraftKings, absolutely. After all, with a positioning that is front and center in a golf tournament known best for being wild and crazy (and booze-fueled), it will undoubtedly generate plenty of bets from people with little insider knowledge of the sport they’re betting on but the unbridled confidence and inhibition that is inherent in heavy alcohol use. But then the question segues to…does the fact that it will very likely be successful means that it will be a net positive?
It should be stated that the morality (or immortality) of a subject is often situational. Athletes such as Phil Mickelson, Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan were renowned for having lost gargantuan amounts of money gambling, but few would say that it’s inherently bad, since they have the money to lose. But many states often act in a somewhat predatorial way to push the lottery, slots, and other more “blue collar” methods of gambling to people who don’t have much excess income to lose, which is certainly more of a gray area as it pertains to right and wrong.
So what about gambling at the TPC Scottsdale? It’s probably safe to say that the average attendee has a reasonable amount of disposable income, and therefore can eat the consequences of rash decisions easily so long as they are able to stay somewhat in control. As such, our inclination is to lean on the side of personal responsibility. So long as no one is stealing purses to fund a burgeoning gambling addiction, all good.
Two things are for certain however, regardless of assignments of morality. One, it will make plenty of money, and two, the craziest tournament in all of golf will somehow manage to get crazier.