Reds first baseman Joey Votto apparently is not a fan of what sports betting is doing to fans.
Last week, during batting practice before an away game against the San Francisco Giants, Votto and a Giants fan got into a cordial but tense exchange regarding gambling, with the Cincinnati slugger not taking too kindly to being peppered with questions by a fan who was clearly thinking about gambling.
“Are there going to be any runs in the first inning?” the fan asked.
It is hard to make out all of what the 37-year-old Votto replied with, but he was brief and said that the team “didn’t score any runs yesterday.”
“How’d that work out for you?” Votto asked in what appears as a slightly irked tone.
The fan then said that he won on his previous bet and was trying to “figure it out” for the upcoming game.
Votto did not look entertained. It is again difficult to tell what he fully said in response, but he said that the conversation was a “labyrinth of reality.” Labyrinth here definitely does not have a positive connotation.
It is hard to know exactly what Votto meant, but given the context, it implies that he thought the fan had a warped view on being a fan of the game of baseball. Votto then said that he is “going for wins” while the fan is “going for something different.”
“I’m in it for the money,” the fan shot back, after Votto remarked that he was wearing a Giants jacket.
The fan added that he was “trying to get rich,” to which Votto called sports betting “a trap.” Someone, and it may not have been Votto, also said he was not a true fan of the game of baseball and/or his hometown Giants team. Below is the video shared by Bleacher Report.
Joey Votto is NOT about that sports betting life 😂@br_betting
— B/R Walk-Off (@BRWalkoff) April 14, 2021
Making sense of the exchange
Based on the footage, it seems like overall the exchange was not too confrontational. All in good fun.
However, clearly some athletes are taking notice of the ways betting changes fandom. It is not an entirely new thing — fantasy sports began to create the same dynamic long ago. Not to mention, gambling on sports goes back to the beginning of sports. Sports betting, in the traditional and legal Las Vegas variety, is very new to states across the country, only made possible by a Supreme Court ruling in 2018.
You could say that these days athletes are seen as a means to an end by fans more so than ever before.
Death threats towards athletes are not uncommon, so it is understandable if an athlete is not fond of the gambling public. Recently, a young sports bettor took a plea deal after credibly threatening to brutally murder multiple baseball players. The case gained national attention because it came during the early days of the regulated sports betting boom, and the gambler was a high-stakes one.
The fan who interacted with Votto last week obviously does not look like one who would ever threaten players.
When Votto called sports betting “a trap,” it implied he knows that sports betting is absolutely not a reliable way to make money, contrary to what the fan thought. That is one of the key tenets of responsible gambling, knowing that betting cannot be seen as a source of income.
Maybe some bettors should take gambling advice from athletes, who themselves cannot bet.
Ohio, where Votto plays his home games, does not yet have legal and regulated sports betting, but the Buckeye State is surrounded by states with it, with the exception of Kentucky.