Rudy Gobert’s money gesture.

This week Rudy Gobert made his most controversial hand gesture since touching a bunch of microphones before unofficially setting off the COVID-19 pandemic. But this time, his money gesture made after disagreeing with a call down the stretch of the Timberwolves’ game with the Cavaliers hopefully won’t lead to the entire NBA shutting down. However, it may lead to questions about the rapid influence of sports betting on the American sporting landscape.

Take a trip back to any point before sports betting was legalized by the Supreme Court in 2018 and a player making a money gesture suggesting that officials were on the take would have been headline news around the country. It would have likely led to a mammoth suspension and interventions from commissioners about how the integrity of the game was the most important thing in the world. After all, nobody wants a Tim Donaghy situation to happen in real-time.

Fast forward to 2024 and sports leagues haven’t just normalized sports betting, they’ve fully embraced it. Leagues are partners with sportsbooks, teams have moved to Las Vegas, betting lines are openly discussed on telecasts, and Americans have breathed in sports betting advertising like it’s oxygen.

While Gobert’s gesture may not have resulted in a full-fledged scandal at the moment, sports media is fully sounding the alarm. Nick Wright is predicting a major sports betting scandal in the near future. Tony Kornheiser says the NBA is facing a crisis. And Temple University is currently under investigation for suspicious activity around betting lines for a college basketball game. It seems to be a matter of “when not if” we do see a huge match-fixing saga that rocks the sports world given the rapid proliferation of unfettered access to sports betting.

Of course, none of this even touches on the societal impact, which former Mavericks executive and poker player Haralabos Voulgaris noted on Twitter, saying “How many years till Sports Gambling addiction becomes a massive problem in the USA. The number of college aged (and younger) kids obsessed with gambling is way too high, and nearly every platform and league are promoting the ‘f’ out of gambling to their fans.”

The issue may just be that it’s honestly too late to do anything about any of this. Sports betting has gotten too big, too fast to truly control. The only thing that realistically can be done is batten down the hatches and brace for impact.

The Awful Announcing Wednesday Newsletter is a deep dive into all things sports media with original commentary, highlights from the week, social media buzz, and much more. You can read this and more by subscribing here. We send a recap of what’s been on AA on Monday and Friday mornings as well as the extended original version on Wednesdays.