INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Elliott Sadler wants NASCAR to roll the dice.
Or at least, he figures, a few betting windows can be added to race tracks across America.
Amid sagging television ratings, dwindling attendance and longtime sponsors pulling out of the series, the former Cup driver and current Xfinity Series contender thinks NASCAR should embrace race-day gambling.
“I think attendance would double tomorrow,” he said Friday at Indianapolis, site of this weekend’s Brickyard 400. “I told them they should get an 18-wheeler and take it track to track. That would be my No. 1 suggestion.”
NASCAR will give the idea an initial whirl in four weeks at Dover, Delaware.
While many state governments seek new revenue sources and many leagues find themselves rethinking policies after a Supreme Court decision in May opened the door to legalizing sports wagering everywhere, it’s a novel and complicated concept for a sport so deeply-rooted in the Bible Belt.
“As states consider, legalize, regulate and offer sports betting, those licensed to offer sports betting may differ,” American Gaming Association spokesman Casey M. Clark said in a statement to The Associated Press. “In Delaware’s case, the track is on the property of a licensed casino that offers legalized sports wagering. For others to follow suit, their state laws and regulations would have to allow for it either in proximity to a licensed operator, like they do at Dover, or in statute that enables tracks to offer wagering.”
Currently, sports wagering is not legal in Indiana.
It’s unclear whether there would ever be enough support in the state legislature to pass. Even if new laws were adopted, Cup officials and race organizers would also likely have to consent.
Friday’s scene around the speedway illustrates why Sadler believes gambling could solve NASCAR’s ills.
Just two days before the 25th Brickyard race is run at one of the world’s most revered racing venues, cars moved briskly along city streets, parking lots were mostly empty and aside from barriers preventing left-hand turns into the track’s main tunnel, there was virtually no hint race weekend had arrived.