Betting on Super Bowls is nothing new, of course, but more people than ever will be able to do so legally this year, thanks to a United States Supreme Court ruling that opened the door for states beyond Nevada to liberalize gambling laws.
New Jersey already has taken the plunge, and New York is working on it.
That change in circumstances will not result in a change of policy for CBS, however. The network, which will carry Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3, will maintain its season-long policy of not having announcers discuss such things on the air.
NBC’s Al Michaels has been making sly gambling references for decades, and on that network’s telecast of Super Bowl III 50 years ago Saturday, Curt Gowdy referenced the Colts being favored over the Jets by 18 to 22 points.
So why not acknowledge it?
“It’s only legalized in a few states,” CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said Thursday at an event in Manhattan to promote the network’s coverage of the Super Bowl. “We just had made the decision that it’s not the right thing to do now. We’re very flexible, and we’re talking to all the different gaming companies out there.
“We may change. But right now, we’ve decided not to do it.”
But might the Super Bowl allow for some flexibility, given how much betting figures into talk about the game?
“Not really; there’s plenty to talk about,” McManus said. “I think in some ways it makes it easier on the announcers, because how much do you do? Do you do just the point spread? Do you do the over/under? Do you do the prop bets?
“I think in a lot of ways it takes a lot of pressure off of them both in the game and the pregame, not to have to talk about betting lines and the other gambling information.”
Said Super Bowl play-by-play man Jim Nantz, “I’m totally comfortable with what Sean has mandated. I’ve never really gotten into that, ever. I don’t even think about it . . . I don’t pay any attention to it, so it’s easy.”