NASCAR President Says Racing Will Have 2019 Sports Betting Guidelines

NASCAR Sports Betting Rules

Drivers and team members could wager on the Gander Outdoor 400 this year, but probably won’t be able to do so in 2019.

NASCAR President Steve Phelps announced his sports organization would have a set of sports betting guidelines for its 2019 season. This weekend, Dover International Speedway will become the first American racing venue to have on-site NASCAR sports betting.

Dover International Speedway will have betting kiosks licensed through Dover Downs racetrack, a horse racing venue across town. The presence of legal sports betting appears to be a little too close to home for Steve Phelps and NASCAR.

Under current NASCAR rules, drivers and race team members are not prohibited from betting on the race. A race car driver or any member of his pit crew could bet on who will win the Gander Outdoors 400 this weekend. They could bet on their own race team or one of their opponents, which naturally makes Steve Phelps nervous.

While no one suspects anyone involved in NASCAR racing would bet on their sport this weekend — the risk/reward factor is hugely in favor of not betting — the possibility over the long haul has to be shut down.

Steve Phelps on NASCAR Sports Betting Rules

When asked about the betting kiosks, Steve Phelps said, “I think for ’19, we’ll have some rules that we’ll put in place. For right now, there’ll be betting here. They have a kiosk here, you can bet inside.”

“We’ll study and see how that goes, but I think we’ll have some rules in place for sponsorship, for what betting looks like, and continue to see what happens in the landscape overall.”

Delaware Kiosk Betting

Delaware became the first US state to legalize single-game sports bets after the Supreme Court struck down a sports betting federal ban in May 2018. Delaware launched sports betting at its 3 horse tracks and off-track betting facilities three weeks after the SCOTUS decision.

Recently, Delaware allowed the sports betting kiosks to be placed at Dover International Speedway, in what seemed like a test-drive for the concept of bookmaker bets at NASCAR events. If this weekend’s experiment is successful, it could open the door to kiosks at other venues.

Gander Outdoors 400 Sports Bets

The race at Dover International Speedway had a full slate of betting lines and proposition bets. Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick were co-favorites with 3:1 odds apiece to win the race (they began 1-2 in positioning). Racer odds were not the only betting options.

Prop bets included over/under wagers on the number drivers on the lead lap at the finish (12.5), the total number of cautions (7.5) during the race, and the most laps led by any one driver (188.5). As bettors can see, all the over/under wagers had the 0.5 designation, so no wagers were pushes.

2019 NASCAR Sports Betting Guidelines

Most NASCAR events will not be able to have on-site sports betting by law. Only 5 states currently have legalized single-game sports betting, and only Mississippi among the southern states allows sports betting. Over the next 5 years, though, the legal landscape is expected to change. NASCAR will be ready with its own regulations.

Phelps suggested in questioning that NASCAR’s 2019 guidelines will ban race car drivers and team members from betting on NASCAR races. The organizational leader said, “I imagine we’ll get there. The way the rulebook looks today, I think the teams and the drivers understand what it looks like today, and I think we’ll clarify for ’19 with more specific language in it.”

It would be unrealistic to think some NASCAR drivers do not gamble. If it is legal under NASCAR rules to gamble on racing events, then racers can gamble on other sports, as well. Drivers, like most national-level athletes, are highly competitive risk takers and often adrenaline junkies. Gambling would be one of the few activities off the track to give a similar rush to competitors.

That being said, most athletes in most sports through the years have not had gambling problems, just like most gamblers in the general population do not have issues with problem gambling. For every Pete Rose or Art Schlicter, there are countless MLB players or football stars who can control their gambling. The same would be true for NASCAR, but all it would take is one scandal to undermine the integrity of racing in the eyes of many. It is therefore incumbant upon Steve Phelps and NASCAR to create guidelines to ban drivers, team members, owners, and executives from engaging in NASCAR gambling.

Such guidelines might not stop gaming activities, but it would show where the line is with NASCAR. Such regulations would protect NASCAR from legal and public relations fallout, while giving Steve Phelps clear authority to sanction associates of NASCAR who cross the line.