The Gambler: Legalize Sports Gambling

“I want people to understand, gambling is not a bad thing if you do it within the framework of what it’s meant to be, which is fun and entertaining.” – Michael Jordan

solecollector.com
Michael Jordan crushing it at the Blackjack table (Photo Courtesy of solecollector.com)

For fans of betting on sporting events, things could get much more fun and entertaining in the not so distant future.  This week the Supreme Court decided to hear New Jersey’s appeal to sports gambling legislation that has been caught up in appeals since 2012.  In essence, what New Jersey wants overturned is the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act which prohibits sports gambling in all but four states: Delaware, Montana, Oregon, and (no surprise) Nevada.  Gambling and casinos are essentially a state issue unless there is federal law preventing something involving gambling, in this case sports gambling.  New Jersey is looking for a way to help its struggling casino economy in Atlantic City and views this is as a way to boost revenue.  They aren’t alone.  Oklahoma, Connecticut, Michigan, West Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania and South Carolina have all introduced some form of sports gambling legislation in 2017. A win for New Jersey more than likely means a win for a dozen or so other states who would gladly jump on the bandwagon to rake in the potential profits of legalized sports gambling.

In the past, the major professional sports leagues and the NCAA were all strongly against legalizing sports betting and were the main proponents against gambling on sports.  But, feelings have shifted in the last 25 years.  NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has expressed interest in legalizing sports gambling.  In 2014 he even wrote in the New York Times about a framework to set up such a system.  Major League Baseball has drifted more towards the NBA as well.  The NHL has mostly stayed quiet on the issue while the NFL and NCAA have been opposed to betting on sporting events.  Interesting to note, the NHL has a new franchise in Las Vegas (the Golden Knights), the NFL’s Raiders are moving to Vegas and numerous conference basketball tournaments are held in Vegas.

Silver ESPN
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver (Photo Courtesy of ESPN)

So how much money is at stake?  Adam Silver stated in his 2014 Times article that an estimated $400 billion in sports wagers are made each year…illegally.  That’s billion with a B.  With the rise of the internet and online gambling sites like Bovada and your local bookie gambling site in Grand Cayman, the ability to place a bet on your favorite team winning it all or what the coin toss will be in the Super Bowl has never been easier.  You used to have to go to the huge super books in Vegas to make these bets.  Not anymore.  Let’s just say that a national sports betting law were established making gambling on sporting events legal in all 50 states.  Let’s say that $400 billion that used to be illegal became legal and was taxed from casinos and online sites at 15%.  That is $60 billion, still billion with a B, in tax revenue alone which, if distributed evenly among the 50 states would provide each state with $1.2 billion, again billion with a B.  I get that this scenario is unrealistic but, it is just an example of the huge financial implications that are at stake here.

Personally, The Gambler is in favor of legalizing sports betting.  Imagine the good that could be done if the above example were true.  You think Alabama couldn’t use $1.2 billion to create a scholarship program that mirrors Georgia’s Hope Scholarship which says if you make a 3.0 in high school and keep a 3.0 in college, your school is paid for?  What about money to fund the Medicaid Waiver Program which provides essential services to people who are unable to get it for themselves or afford it?  What about a pay raise for teachers, who are vastly underpaid?  Or financing new prisons to relieve the overcrowding that is currently happening?  Many say legalizing gambling is a tax on the poor but guess what?  If someone wants to place a bet, they are going to do it.  At least if it was legal there would be a way to reinvest some of that money into programs to improve people’s lives.

Donald Trump (CNN Money)
Photo Courtesy of CNN Money

Two interesting side notes are whether Draftkings and Fanduel will be covered if the Supreme Court rules in New Jersey’s favor.  Currently daily fantasy sports supporters say Draftkings is a “game of skill” and therefore not gambling.  Protesters say it is 100% gambling.  That is why you see DFS legal in some states and illegal in others.  The other twist in this story is Donald Trump.  Guess what The Donald’s business was before being Mr. President?  Real estate and building “big, beautiful, tremendous casinos”.  If he can’t Make America Great Again, maybe he can Make Betting On Sporting Events Great Again?  MBOSEGA indeed.

Cover Photo Courtesy of wizardofodds.com

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