Legendary broadcaster Brent Musburger is hedging his bets on sports gambling, lending a new notch of legitimacy to a hobby previously considered more dubious than sound. After a 50-year career, the ESPN icon has recently “retired,” but not in the usual sense of the word. Rather than packing his bags for a quiet life in Florida, Musberger is headed to Las Vegas to launch the Vegas Stats & Information Network (VSiN).
According to an article in the New York Post, the 77-year-old’s newest venture is an extension of his long-time gambling hobby. For years, Musburger made veiled references to gambling during games. Now, he’s excited to go all in — and for someone with his clout, it’s a fairly big deal.
VSiN launched on February 27, and it’s not just Musburger that make it something special. Longtime boxing analyst Al Bernstein is right at his side.
The multi-channel network will be streamed on several platforms, including SiriusSM, and will also be available by web, radio, mobile and social. The company, dedicated to reporting sports gambling information, will broadcast from a custom-built studio in the Sports Book of the South Point Hotel Casino and Spa in Las Vegas. Musburger hosts a two-hour portion called “My Guys in the Desert” on Monday through Thursday.
A network dedicated to sports gambling certainly makes the practice more professional and acceptable, as well as visible and attractive to a wider audience. It also shows that there is a high demand out there for this kind of information. Musburger and company are merely filling a hole that already existed by catering to a massive, untapped audience.
For Musburger, it’s a long-time dream realized. “I came to believe that the professional sports bettors and bookmakers are the most knowledgeable sports fans in the country,” Musburger said in a Washington Post feature. Over his career, he came to love sitting around and talking to them and placing his own bets — but only on games he wasn’t calling.
Sports betting has long been taboo, but Musburger has helped changed this perception. For example, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called to have sports betting legalized nationally and federally regulated in an editorial. Fantasy sports leagues, which now partner with the teams themselves, have been all but completely normalized.
As perceptions of sports gambling shift, I’m sure we’re all likely to witness it grow as an industry and a pastime.