Tonight, the Sierra Canyon Trailblazers, with a roster featuring Bronny James and Zaire Wade, the sons of NBA legends LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, travels to San Diego to take on Montgomery High School.
With Sierra Canyon, located in Chatsworth, Calif., entering the season as two-time defending California Open Division state champions, with 15 games scheduled to appear on ESPN, and with the offspring of not one, but two NBA superstars on the roster, there’s already plenty of buzz surrounding the team. At least one offshore sportsbook is adding to that buzz by taking bets on tonight’s game and more.
SportsBettingAG.com is offering gamblers three prop bets for Thursday’s Sierra Canyon/Montgomery tilt: an over/under of 11.5 points for freshman Bronny James, a similar bet at 13.5 points for senior Zaire Wade, and -500 “yes” and +300 “no” on Dwayne Wade attending the game. The elder Wade retired from the NBA at the end of last season.
The idea of gambling on high school sports is unique and may find an audience. But some sportsbook insiders don’t see it becoming the norm in the US.
I do not see high school sports betting being offered in the US any time in the near future,” said Matt Lindeman, an oddsmaker at Circa Sports in Las Vegas, in an interview with Casino.org. “I think most Americans draw a line ethically when it comes to amateur sports.”
Division I college athletics are considered amateur competitions, with college football and basketball being among the most wagered-on games in the US. But Lindeman acknowledged, “it’s hard to consider DI athletics amateur.”
States Don’t Want It
Since the 2018 Supreme Court ruling on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA), Washington, D.C. and the 18 states that have subsequently legalized sports betting (it was legal in Nevada prior to the PAPSA decision) have taken different approaches to the handling of action on college games.
Oregon only offers betting professional games, while Colorado, the most recent state to approve sports wagering, is expected to permit college bets. New York forbids bets on competitions involving universities from the state or any college games that are held there
What is universal is that states forbid wagers on high school sports, and while many do not overtly state as much in their respective gambling regulations, there is usually some language about prohibitions pertaining to betting on competitions involving participants that are under 18 years old.
The age language is seen as a stumbling block for increasing the footprint of esports in the US sports betting lexicon, though some states are liberalizing their views on competitive gaming wagers. The work-around in the case of esports is that the players and competitions aren’t subsidized and overseen by state high school sports governing bodies.
Don’t Bet On It
SportsBookAG is also offering wagers on Sierra Canyon for bettors with longer-term views, such as the school’s season win total (25.5), whether or not the team will defend its state title, and season scoring averages for Bronny James and Zaire Wade.
Still, Lindeman doesn’t see this as the type of action most gamblers are looking for. Most bettors “are not looking to gamble on the performance of literal children,” he said.
The oddsmaker added that regulation will likely prevent high school athletics betting from becoming a mainstream offering in the US.
“Regulation would be a huge obstacle, also,” he said. “I’d imagine these markets will remain offshore.”