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Charles Barkley on Sports Betting: There’s Too Much of It

That headline is not a misprint. Charles Barkley is worried that the proliferation of sports betting throughout the country is destined to do damage to sports. He is particularly worried about in-game betting.

“We’ve got people in the stands betting on who’s going make the next free throws. I mean, think about that,” said Barkley. The NBA on TNT analyst voiced his concerns in a media call meant to promote the upcoming American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament in July. Interestingly enough, Barkley bet $100,000 on himself in last year’s American Century Championship… and lost.

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“If I was a scumbag, I’d look at my friend in the stands, and say, ‘Yo, I’m going to miss both of these free throws.’ Now, that’s cheating.”

Barkley, who is a spokesman for FanDuel, isn’t oblivious to the reality of sports betting’s presence. He seems focused more on in-game wagering options that could affect the integrity of a game.

“Listen, gambling’s always been part of sports. That’s why the NFL is King Kong,” he said. “But I am concerned that you can sit in the stands and make bets in the middle of a basketball game.”

It is fair to scrutinize the messenger. After all, he was once fined after telling the media of an “in-game” bet had going in 1990 with Mark Jackson of the New York Knicks. The two had a running bet on who, between them, would make the play that won the game. Barkley ended up winning the bet and what turned out to be $500. That turned into a $5,000 fine from then commissioner David Stern.

Despite Barkley’s obvious affinity for sports betting, he is concerned about an aspect of it that is in it’s infancy stages. As the industry spreads to over half of the country’s cell phones, it is a concern we will have to monitor.

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