By Eric Fleming, Contributing writer
Federal law dating back nearly two decades bans sports betting in nearly every state.
Only Nevada, Oregon, Delaware, and Montana -- all of which already had sports gambling -- were allowed to keep their form of betting when the law was passed in 1992. However, Oregon dropped its sports gambling in 2007, while such betting in Montana is minimal. Nevada remains the major center for sports gambling. Delaware, meanwhile, was stuck with its previous version of offering bets only on multiple games at once -- not a big money maker and useless for events like the Super Bowl.
That said, it is fun to imagine how we'd go about betting on the Super Bowl if it were legal to do so. If sports betting were legalized across the country, here are some hypothetical wagers you and your friends could place with each other during the Super Bowl. These aren't all as simple as betting who will win, whether the favorite will cover the point spread, or whether the two teams will meet the over/under, but they're sure to keep everyone more involved with the game, right up until the final whistle.
Penalty Yards: Forget about winning and losing, this bet would be all about in-game penalties. You could pick a team and each time "your" team got a penalty, you would lose a dollar (or five, or 10, etc.). Each time your opponent's team was penalized, you would get that much back, with more points for flagrant fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
Challenges: Several years ago, the NFL instituted the instant replay system, and along with it, the coach's challenge. Now, if a coach of one of the teams doesn't like a call, he can challenge it. For this bet, you would decide which coach you thought would use one of his challenges first. Want more detail? You could choose sides on whether that coach will be right or wrong.
Run Or Pass: As you can see already, there are practically limitless aspects of a football game that could be bet on, if it were legal. For this one, you would wager some of your hard-earned cash on whether the first play of the game (after the kickoff) were going to be a run or pass. And you wouldn't need to stop there. What would the second play be? The third?
Yardage Totals: The final score, while ultimately the most important part of the game, isn't the only thing that counts. It's especially true if you join a fantasy league, and can be just as important here. Who cares who's winning the game. Who has more passing yards? Who has more rushing yards? You could make the bet and take your friends to town by showing off your knowledge of each team's offensive and defensive tendencies.
What if you wanted more? You could place bets on what the score would be at the end of the first quarter, or at halftime, or the end of the third quarter. Or the final score, of course.
If you wanted to, you could keep track of all these aspects and more. You could treat it like a drinking game. Each time your team gave up a running play of more than 10 yards, you could take a drink (or in this case, lose $1). Each time your team sacked the quarterback, you'd earn $2. Intercept a pass? Cause a fumble? That would mean more money for you!
Of course, you wouldn't actually have to play for money. If you're a married couple, you could play against your spouse for dishwashing duties. If your whole family was playing, kids could play to get out of chores, while the parents could play to get the car washed and waxed. Friends and neighbors could play for similar prizes. You could get creative and have fun!