I watched the Super Bowl in Spanish: It was better that way By John L. Smith, CDC Gaming Reports February 10, 2021 at 8:00 pm A funny thing happened on the way to watching the Kansas City Chiefs repeat as champions of the National Football League. And it wasn’t the ugly outcome of the game. My wife and I went over to her mother’s house to celebrate the Big Game between the Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was a party of three, socially distanced and just about my speed. Then a strange and wonderful thing happened. Her television malfunctioned. The broadcast came across entirely in Spanish. From the pregame show to the final play, with the exception of the incomprehensible halftime mashup by The Weekend. It was enough to give recovering COVID-19 patients a flashback. A VSiN show led by Brent Musburger (center) and Vinny Magliulo (left). But about the Spanish. My brain immediately scrambled and scrolled back to my early lessons in the language a mere 45 years ago. Those mental pages were covered in dust. The days of struggling through a Spanish language translation were pretty much over. To the best of my recollection, not a single classroom dialogue had the least bit to do with the line of scrimmage, third down and long or a punting situation. The language barrier only added to the sense of calamity of the game for the Chiefs, who appeared to be desperately in need of an interpreter of the rules throughout the contest. While doing my best to watch the game, I also followed the flow of commentary on social media, which thankfully was more or less in English. I also caught the pregame programming of the gang at the South Point Casino-based Vegas Stats & Information Network (VSiN), the Internet outlet dedicated to the world of sports betting. Watching the familiar faces of Jimmy Vaccaro, Vinny Magliulo, and Matt Youmans break down elements of the game and discuss some of the big bests that were being made in the final hours before kickoff set my confused mind at ease. The network has come a long way since its 2017 founding by the family of sportscaster Brent Musburger. Vaccaro is undoubtedly the sportsbook character-in-chief. He well remembers the long road to this level of acceptance of the nation’s last pariah area of gambling. If there’s a Promised Land for bookmakers, I think he’s found it. “I’m pleasantly surprised because I keep saying betting, in general, is getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” Vaccaro said at one point in the broadcast as the big money line bets began to pour in, wagers that three hours later became money in the bank for the sportsbook. Beyond all the hype and pyrotechnics, the Super Bowl is perhaps the best reminder of just how far the nation has moved toward accepting legalized sports betting. The VSiN network is another good one. Every time I tune in, I am reminded of how hard the late journalist and casino executive Gary Thompson tried to create a gambling-theme television network, one that would help increase acceptance of the casino industry at a time it was undergoing a dramatic transition. As we all know too well, the game itself often degrades into a blowout. Teams fall behind and buckle under the mounting pressure. That was certainly the case with the Chiefs. The contest on the field and often entertaining commercials aside, having a wager on the game is part of the tradition. Not everyone approves of the activity, of course, and that’s all right. Most can’t afford to throw down bets the size of mortgage payments. And that’s all right, too. It’s the entertainment that matters, and at its best sports, the availability of betting is an integral part of that entertainment quotient. It’s a language everyone speaks. Look across the Internet and you’ll find a plethora of information services, self-styled experts, entertaining commentators, and big guys in big jerseys with big opinions. Most are pretty harmless. But with that said, the future of the sports betting information industry depends on exposing the charlatans. That’s part of the price of legitimacy. Back in the sportsbook, Vaccaro was smiling on the VSiN set. “You see behind us what’s going on, and you can’t ask for anything more.” That’s a remarkable business success story in any language. John L. Smith is a longtime Las Vegas columnist and author. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith.