Gene Sapakoff

Sports Betting

Odds are displayed on a screen at a sports book owned and operated by CG Technology in Las Vegas. The U.S. Supreme Court last May Monday struck down a federal ban on sports betting in other states. File/AP 

I bet you thought it would never happen, the opportunity to place a bet on a Clemson-South Carolina football game while stopping by the store to pick up mac and cheese supplies.

But 5-1 odds say legal sports gambling — eventually including college athletics — is coming to the Palmetto State, even if a pending South Carolina bill has little chance of passing in its present form. The Supreme Court’s decision Monday that erases the ban on state-authorized sports betting changes everything.

I’m not saying government-blessed wagering on a Panthers-Falcons game is good for the soul, just that it’s coming as sure as more traffic on I-26.

Smart parlay play: pick states like New Jersey, Mississippi, Ohio and Virginia to get their sports gambling games up and running ASAP; take a bunch of neighboring states to cave in.

And those states won’t let Nevada take all the college action.

That means the likes of Will Muschamp, Frank Martin, Dabo Swinney and Brad Brownell will have to come cleaner with their injury reports — and that they can also welcome extra dollars coming into their programs.

But South Carolina doesn’t have to be like any other state when it comes to sports betting. We can have modest fun with this, making sure things don’t get out of control while funneling funds to worthy causes.

How about this?

• Individual game wagers allowed on NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, NHL, college football and college basketball plus NASCAR, pro soccer, boxing and MMA.

• 10-game cards during the football season in which winners split the take.

• Betting via the web or in person but only with a credit card, which South Carolinians must register as their sports betting credit card of choice.

• Only $20 per week allowed on a given credit card per week.

• Emphasis on educating bettors, coaches and athletes.

• Profits plowed into early childhood education or improved roads or prison reform or lower taxes. And definitely into gambling addiction help.

College injury reports

Even if South Carolina doesn’t jump in the betting pool, enough other states will create a ripple that requires the NCAA and/or college conferences to adopt a uniform policy of injury reporting in football and basketball.

The weekly NFL injury report is all about gambling, to eliminate (lofty goal) or limit (more likely) inside information on injuries.

Such a college policy would take lots of pressure off the student trainer and walk-on punter, ideally cutting down on inquiries from guys who are just curious about how the starting running back’s knee feels this week.

As it is, some college teams keep injury reports to themselves. Others are only slightly less murky.

USC and Clemson cuts

The NBA is the professional sports league way out front on this, for better or worse; owners can’t wait to divide the cut from gambling money they will rightly demand. Eventually the other pro leagues will fall in line, and so will college presidents when they recognize that rarest of campus things: a new revenue stream.

Student-athletes should get a cut, too.

College football and basketball players recently got a cost-of-attendance allowance but if fresh cash flows in because people are wagering on blockers and tacklers, those blockers and tacklers deserve a raise.

This is where it gets sticky for the NCAA and conferences.

What if Texas has more sports gambling revenue per school than Kansas?

What if Big Ten states have larger betting pools than SEC states?

Some kind of centralized, equitable revenue splitting system is a must. Sadly, it will probably have to involve the bureaucratically challenged NCAA.

But don’t bet against it.

Odds are this is happening and the over-under for “sooner than you think” is two years.

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff