Bears

'It's a real game changer.' What legalized sports gambling means for Chicago sports fans

'It's a real game changer.' What legalized sports gambling means for Chicago sports fans

The U.S. Supreme Court made a groundbreaking decision Monday by lifting a federal law that prohibited sports gambling outside of Nevada. Although the move is merely hours old, how it will impact fans is a hot-topic.

Brett Smiley is Editor-in-Chief of SportsHandle.com, a company that produces original reporting on regulated sports betting. He said that some states have laws "ready to go," though Illinois has conversations that are on-going.

"Illinois, they have conversations that are ongoing, there are a number of bills on the table, some of them closer to completion or not" Smiley said to NBC Sports Chicago. "I think the legislative session runs for a bit longer in Illinois, so there’s definitely some runway for them to get something done. 

"I would think with the events from today, they’d be more likely to do so."

Illinois' legislative session ends May 31, giving the state a few weeks to put something together. The state has been proactive in getting something together, according to Yahoo Sports' Jay Busbee.

"Illinois is one of many states which took a proactive look at the Supreme Court’s case and decided to get ready if the tides broke sports gambling’s way," Busbee said. "In January of this year, the Illinois Senate introduced the 'Sports Betting Consumer Protection Act,' one of two bills designed as a framework for sports gambling in the state, to be updated and codified once the Supreme Court ruled."

Smiley mentioned several options for how fans will be able to place bets once laws are in place.

"The way it’s looking in every state is that they’ll either need to go to a casino or a riverboat [casino] in some cases," he said. "They should have an online component, so either an app or an online [website] where you can go.

"Hopefully you wont have to go into casinos to register for any of these, but it will be both of those things."

Smiley said that it is "a bit of a reach" regarding kiosks potentially being opened inside stadiums to place bets. However, he said that fans should be able to make a wager on their phones during a game.

The specific sports available to bet on will depend on the state, though Smiley said that states will offer "diverse menus" of events to keep pace with offshore sports books. Ultimately, he said today's decision is a game changer.

"This is a watershed moment for sports and sports betting in the US," he said. "The NFL helped usher in this law in 1992 and what it’s really done is only help an underground black market flourish. It’s a real game changer."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Is the Robbie Gould Bears reunion realistic?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Is the Robbie Gould Bears reunion realistic?

David Haugh, Ben Finfer and JJ Stankevitz join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00- Robbie Gould wants the 49ers to trade him. Will the dream of Bears fans come true? David Haugh thinks his departure three years ago might make a reunion difficult.

12:30- Tony Andracki joins Kap from Wrigley to preview the Cubs-Dodgers series opener. They discuss Jose Quintana's recent success, the need to keep Jason Heyward in the every day lineup and talk about Kris Bryant's struggles.

17:30- The panel discusses the Cubs' lineup for Game 1 with the Dodgers and if Pedro Strop is one of the three greatest relievers in Cubs history.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

As NFL Draft looms, anything is possible for Ryan Pace and the Bears

As NFL Draft looms, anything is possible for Ryan Pace and the Bears

Ryan Pace’s pre-draft press conference began with the Bears’ general manager dryly referring to it as “always fun,” which elicited a round of chuckles from the assembled media at Halas Hall. Two days before the NFL Draft commences in Nashville, there’s no chance Pace is going to publicly tip his hand for what he’s planning to do later in the week. Fun, right?

Pace did tip one thing, though: When the 24th pick comes around — the first of the two first-round picks the Bears shipped to the Raiders last Labor Day weekend — he’ll pull up highlights of Khalil Mack in Halas Hall’s high-tech new draft room. Consider it a welcome reminder of why Pace doesn't have a first-round pick and might as well hook a Nintendo 64 up to the digital draft board and challenge anyone in the building to MarioKart on Thursday night (if this is possible, Toad on Koopa Troopa Beach is always a winner). 

While the Bears won’t be on the clock until pick No. 87 in the third round (last year’s trade to move back into the second round to draft Anthony Miller is also why), Pace said the pressure on him remains the same as it was the last four years, when he made four selections in the first nine picks of those drafts. So that’s one aspect of this year’s draft that won’t change. 

Another: The Bears aren’t going to switch their philosophy to drafting for the few needs a 12-4 team coming off a division title has. For Pace, the reasoning is twofold: First, he’s always been a best-player-available guy; second, he doesn’t see any truly glaring needs on his roster. 

“We feel fortunate with our roster right now,” Pace said. “This press conference feels a little different in that there's no pressing, huge needs. We can honestly select the best players. That's a great spot to be in.”

That’s not to say the Bears don’t have any needs. Another running back, a reserve receiver, a backup tight end, cornerbacks and safeties for the future — those are all needs. Teams can never have too many offensive linemen, defensive linemen and edge rushers. 

Of those, though, the only position with a path to a starting/prominent role on offense or defense may be running back. Even then, Pace said Mike Davis — who the Bears signed in March — is “built to handle a lot of carries,” so if a running back is drafted the expectation will be for him to be part of a rotation, not necessarily a true No. 1 starter-type. 

“Right now, I know running back's been talked about a lot, but we feel good about that position,” Pace said. “We feel good about Tarik (Cohen), we feel really good about Mike Davis, we feel good about Ryan Nall and we feel good about Cordarrelle Patterson and the things he can do out of the backfield.

“… I think there's probably always a storyline with every draft. I understand why it's that way, but I don't feel like we go into this draft saying, 'Man, we have to take this position or we're in trouble.' We're in good shape.”

So consider this another intentionally-murky statement by Pace in this pre-draft press conference. The Bears probably need to take a running back, but he’s not going to say that and tip his hand or paint himself into a corner three days before he actually gets to make a pick. 

(That Pace mentioned Nall, a 2018 undrafted free agent who spent last year on the practice squad, by name was at least interest-piquing.)

So as Pace took questions on Tuesday, most of the answers were some variation of “sure, it’s possible.” Trading down? Sure, it’s possible. Trading up? Sure, it’s possible — though not into the first round. Drafting a quarterback? Sure, it’s possible. A kicker? Sure, it’s possible. Not drafting a running back? Sure, it’s possible. 

We’ll have a complete picture of what Pace was actually thinking come Saturday evening. But while he didn’t reveal much on Tuesday, and doesn’t have much draft capital with which to work, this draft is important. The Bears can find players for the present and future — when their roster will be more expensive — starting on Friday night. And hitting on a few of these picks will be critical for keeping the Bears’ window to win open as long as possible. 

“If we take a player where we happen to have a lot of depth right now, but it’s a good player, that’s okay,” Pace said. “I think it’s short-sighted to say, ‘well, this guy might be able to play a little bit quicker so let’s take him.’ Let’s just take the best player. If that means it takes a little bit longer for him to play, let’s just make sure we take the best guy.”