Impact of soccer match-fixing scandals  

February, 7, 2013

A soccer match-fixing scandal that spreads from Europe to Asia to Africa.

An oral argument in New Jersey to determine whether sports betting should be legal in the United States.

A record haul in the state of Nevada for Super Bowl betting.

Three moments, two of them (match fixing and the Super Bowl) that have already happened, and one (the oral arguments) that will happen Feb. 14. At first glance they are separated by distance and time and varying degrees of perception. But look a little harder and the web of connection is there, potentially unfolding like a jigsaw Quentin Tarantino film from the early '90s.

Let's start with the Super Bowl. In the days leading up to the game, bookmakers around the country began predicting that it would be the most-bet NFL title game ever. As economic fortune-tellers, Nevada bookies can't be beat. When the economy is on the verge of turning they are the first to notice, as more and more money starts crossing the counter. Ed Salmons of the Las Vegas Hotel told me he could sense all through the NFL playoffs that the cash was coming, that the action felt different and livelier than the year before. And the bookies were right. The record for the Nevada handle on the Super Bowl had been a little more than $94 million, set in 2006 when the Pittsburgh Steelers played the Seattle Seahawks. But on Sunday, bettors poured more than $98 million into the state's sports books, easily a new record.