Mike Francesa, whose career as a sports radio host has spanned three decades, predicts the proliferation of legal sports betting around the country will change the way people watch sports.
This year’s Supreme Court decision to widely open up legal sports betting in states beyond Nevada was “an amazing game changer,” said Francesa, who returned to WFAN in New York in May after leaving the station at the end of last year.
In May, the high court, in a 6-3 vote, upheld the legality of a 2014 New Jersey law permitting sports betting at casinos and racetracks in the state and voided the 1992 federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which had prevented states beyond Nevada and a few other grandfathered states from offering sports betting.
“It’s going to take a couple years,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” on Thursday. “But in five, 10 years, [sports betting] will have changed the landscape of sports dramatically in this country.”
Sports fans with money riding will watch more games and keep closer tabs on their favorite teams and leagues, Francesa suggested.
“Companies like Boyd Gaming and MGM are going to do really well,” he said. “States are not going to re-vet people. They’re going to deal with people who already have licenses. And that’s why casino companies are going to do really well around the country.”
Boyd Gaming owns 24 properties in Nevada and six other states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. MGM Resorts owns 13 properties in Las Vegas, including the MGM Grand, the Bellagio and Mandalay Bay, in addition to other U.S. states and China.
“The smart [gaming companies] are going to get in there and make a big stand in the big states. I think that’s going to be a very big part of their business,” said Francesa.
Sports betting is expected to be a part of Francesa’s business going forward. It’s eventually going to be part of an app he’s launching on Friday to take his brand and insight directly to his fans. Francesa will go live on the “Mike On” app for regularly scheduled appearances and whenever he wants to go live — no matter how early or how late.
In addition to sports analysis, the app will “do a lot more gambling stuff; that’s going to be a very big deal,” Francesa said. “We’re partnering with companies that I can’t name yet.”
Francesa will continue to do his radio show in addition to contributing content to his app.
In 2008, Francesa split with longtime WFAN co-host Chris “Mad Dog” Russo. The “Mike and the Mad Dog” show had lasted nearly 20 years. Shortly thereafter, Russo went to Sirius XM to headline his own sports talk channel.