Chicago Sports Betting: Ads and Locations Dominate Broadcast Media

Seven game announcements in the ballpark proper, plus two for the benefit of viewers on the rotating message boards behind home plate.

And Len Kasper was calling the game from the ESPN/Hard Rock Casino broadcast booth.

At Wrigley Field, meanwhile, the lone FanDuel ad tucked into the right-hand corner of the field might suggest the Cubs’ betting zeal is a bit less consuming than the Sox’s, but that’s to ignore the empire of DraftKings bets under construction at the legendary corner of Addison and Sheffield. A sportsbook straight from the Wrigley premises – let’s bet two!

Gambling, a word that for decades went unmentioned in any sport other than horse racing, is now everywhere.

“The genie is out of the bottle and it’s not coming back,” a former athletic director with experience on both sides of town told me. “Too much income”

Wherever there is sport, there is play, including sports media. On WSCR the other day, MGM Bets “ambassador” Chris Chelios joined morning hosts Mully and Haugh for a chat via the Circa Resorts & Casino hotline. If you want to ‘bet where I bet’, Mully has directed you to the Bet Rivers site, where unmissable Roland-Garros action awaits you.

The French Open! Tennis!

Dan Bernstein, who once shaped Chicago’s sports consciousness, urged listeners to use the “promo code Bern” and play a multi-sport, multi-team bet that a background in math would come in handy. Promo code “Matt” gets you access to a home run game endorsed by Matt Spiegel. . . I am sorry; they lost me. A listener cannot distinguish conversation from advertising copy.

I’m not naive with this stuff. My late father was known for setting up a stool at Bud O’Leary’s Tavern, a friendly neighborhood spot where the real action was in the basement. rare occasions when the cops have passed.

Bob Young’s Barber Shop offered haircuts, naughty magazines, and a backroom the older ones knew to go to get down on Bears-Packers or Notre Dame-Michigan State.

My friend Bones put his journalism degree from Marquette into the communications department of a downtown insurance company. On the sidelines, he ran a little book for friends and friends of friends and was oblivious to the concept of a road tax until some pissed-looking morons snuck into his booth at a cafe in Lincoln Park and he suggest finding a new sideline.

Shaken, Bones came and stayed with us in San Francisco for a while as he considered reinventing himself – during the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. My daughter, then 7 years old, found her mastery of point spreads fascinating.

Point spreads, parlays, prop bets. . . I don’t care one way or another. I know people who bet, and I know people who can’t bother watching a game unless they’ve bet. But I don’t like the not-too-subtle message that you have to be “in the action” to fully enjoy the sport.

Especially when it comes to celebrity endorsers. Charles Barkley has a terrible history at the Las Vegas tables, but here he’s touting FanDuel. Kevin Garnett was an NBA champion and as fierce a competitor as ever, but his publicity would suggest that a successful Bet MGM game was his crowning achievement. The Mannings (Caesars) and Mike Ditka (Bet Rivers) need more visibility? Drew Brees and his smug PointsBet “brothers” urging us to “live our betting lives” are more annoying than those toothy fake musicians from Kars for Kids.

Perhaps the ads would be more tolerable if they were as tastefully smart as, say, those male enhancement spots starring Doug Flutie and Frank Thomas on the driving range. This elixir they peddle is the key to restoring vigor and vigor to a quarantine. “And she’s going to like it too,” Frank assures, with a mocking wink, to his idiot admirer as the idiot’s companion blushes.

I have no words. And I watch too much TV.

Crain’s contributing columnist Dan McGrath is president of Leo High School in Chicago and a former sportswriter for the Chicago Tribune.

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