Povich Center Hosts Panel on Esports, Sports Gambling

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Povich Center Hosts Panel on Esports, Sports Gambling
Oct 4, 2019

By Ivan Torres

The Povich Center hosted a discussion about esports and sports gambling at Eaton Theatre in Knight Hall Oct. 3.

Journalism students engaged in dialogue about two of the fastest-growing areas in sports media with a diverse panel consisting off: journalist Margaret Engel, Washington Post esports editor Mike Hume, president & CEO of Lead1 Association Tom McMillen, SiriusXM producer Noah Niederhoffer and president of UMCP gaming Joel Yoo.

The discussion came on a day when Monumental Sports chairman and founder Ted Leonsis, announced partnerships with internationally known betting and gaming company, William Hill U.S., to create the first sportsbook at a professional sports venue in the country.

“I’m fascinated to see how it plays out,” Hume said. “It’s a big market that’s getting bigger by the day. The impact of having a brick-and-motor facility, inside a sports arena, is a landmark.”

Added Niederhoffer: “I think that gambling is fascinating. I believe that it is going to change the way we consume sports forever. Whether that is gambling from your seats or going to an establishment in a stadium.”

Although the panel spent most of the time dialed in on the benefits of sports gambling, they also talked about its pitfalls.

“If you look at European soccer and tennis, there are integrity issues with throwing games and point shaving,” McMillen said. “When you chase so much money and cross a line where people don’t believe in the integrity of the game, live sports can be irreparably damaged.”

With the growing popularity of esports, these integrity issues are prominent there as well.

Yoo mentioned how esports and esports gambling is not regulated like mainstream sports and the profitability could ruin the social aspect of esports. He said, groups like the “Overwatch league,” help him make friends and build bonds with players from around the world. But players are now realizing they can make more money by streaming at home than competing on a traditional team.

The panel continued to elaborate on the negatives of esports, blaming them for decline of youth sport leagues and teenage health.

“The more time a child spends on a computer or looking at their mobile screen instead of being physically active, the greater our nation’s healthcare cost will be down the road,” McMillen said.

Engel added: “The aspect of playing games in your room, hours at a time, without properly eating or sleeping, is not beneficial.”

With all the good and bad of esports and sports gambling, the panel concluded that it’s imperative that journalist continue to investigate and stay on top of these trends. They will soon be integrated into the industry.

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