Banning Sports Gambling is a Crime

This was my research paper last school year in English.  I thought it was worth posting due to my strong beliefs on the issue and how similar it is to the topics discussed Pete Rose post, here.  Here is my main case for the legalization of sports betting.

         Sports gambling is an estimated $380 billion dollar industry.  Yes, that is billion, with a B.  Every year, millions of people including myself participate in games that seem harmless at first glance, like Super Bowl Squares and March Madness.  However, with the exception of four states, including Nevada, betting on these and many other games is illegal, even though it is nearly an American pastime to throw a couple bucks on a game. Legalizing sports gambling is an effective way to regulate gambling across the country and bring more attention and revenue to major sports leagues, and not legalizing it would lead to increasing illegal activity and a loss in potential profits.
            Sports gambling already happens in all states, and gambling in some form is legal in most states, so there isn’t much reason to prevent sports gambling.  The fact that sports gambling is legal in some states defeats the purpose of making it illegal in others.  Michael Rosenberg puts it bluntly when he writes, “legal sports gambling happens in this country every day, in a place my sources call “Las Vegas” (Rosenberg).  What Rosenberg says here is completely true.  Las Vegas is the premier place to gamble in the world.  Why does sports gambling have to be legalized in Vegas but not in say, Texas?  In addition, James Surowiecki states that “forty-three states and the District of Columbia have lotteries.  All the states except Utah and Hawaii have commercial betting in some form.  And more than forty have racetrack betting” (Surowiecki).  Again, if 48 states have betting, and most states have betting in several forms, what is different about sports betting?  Is there anything different about the Super Bowl and the lottery when both can result in hitting the jackpot or losing it all?  Perhaps another hugely important topic to consider is fantasy sports, which are played by roughly 13% of all Americans.  Fantasy sports are legal, because “fantasy Sports are considered games of skill – not chance – if they can be won by successfully utilizing superior knowledge of the players involved” (Smith).  All these examples of gambling are like outlawing Christianity and Islam, but saying Hinduism is okay, or putting a ban on Nickelodeon and Disney, but allowing Cartoon Network.  They are all religions, or children’s networks, so none should be more legal than another.
            The legalization of sports gambling would lead to an added interest in sporting events and would be profitable to sports leagues and the economy.  As Surowiecki boldly states, “the ban on sports gambling does exactly what Prohibition did.  It makes criminals rich…Legalized sports betting would bring in significant tax revenues for the states” (Surowiecki).  With taxes on bets, revenues for states would be in the millions.  Currently, the criminals running illegal gambling organizations are making profits off of these millions in taxes the government could be collecting.  Also, Rosenberg adds that “[Sports leagues] need people to watch so they can make money, and they need to conduct sporting events to get people to watch.  Gambling gets people to watch.  It’s a huge boon” (Rosenberg).  Gambling incentivizes the watching of sports, and gets people more into it.  I have personal experience that when I have money wagered on a game, you care a lot more about the game and watch it more closely, which gives higher ratings and more distribution, being greatly advantageous to the sports leagues that claim that sports gambling hurts their business.  If revenues are guaranteed, why are these leagues insistent that sports gambling should remain outlawed?  It seems like an obvious flaw that should be changed, but as in every issue, there is a con side.
            The beliefs of people opposed to the legalization of sports gambling – that gambling will cause game fixing and addiction, are invalid and unreasonable arguments.  James B. Butler, firmly against sports gambling, reports that “in California, more than 1 million problem and pathological gamblers cost the state more than $1 billion a year (Butler).  This is plainly invalid because as I have already proven, the government could make money from taxing these people, and gamblers could just as easy gamble illegally or gamble on other things, such as buying lottery tickets.  On this logic, one could buy a billion lottery tickets, and lose every time, and somehow it was still be better than a sports bet!  I find this ridiculous!  Speaking about game fixing, Michael Rosenberg states that “The fear is at once, absolutely valid and completely misguided.  A point-shaving scandal would be the worst business development that could happen to any sports league (Rosenberg).  Most people relate game fixing to the 1919 World Series, where the Chicago White Sox fixed the games for money.  However, this is not 1919 anymore, and players can make more money by playing well than throwing a game.

   The legalization of sports gambling would allow for more monitoring of gambling and easier recognition of potential rigging of games. As Michael Rosenberg points out, “If we legalize gambling, we can regulate it. We can monitor it. Experts can track gambling activity to look for suspicious patterns. Casinos can help law-enforcement authorities, even tip them off, because it will be in their best interest to do so” (Rosenberg). It should go without saying that tracking gambling should make it obvious when a few people start making millions on games. This should almost eliminate the want to fix games and make it obvious when game fixing actually occurs. Lastly, Gary Payne informs that “Most participants in the sports betting industry would embrace regulation to prevent adverse effects of gambling” (Payne). I, along with most people would bet legally in order to insure the safety and legality of our actions, a point that works to advocate the legalization of sports gambling.

Sports betting must be legalized in order for fans of sports to be able to participate in casual gambling and for the states and sports leagues to gain revenue while enriching the viewing experience for fans. By making this change, we can be sure that the $380 billion dollar sports betting industry has a comfortable, safe, and legal environment to satisfy all parties involved.

Now in addition to what I wrote in the research paper, I would also like to briefly mention the topic of fantasy sports, which are played by roughly 42 million people in the U.S. and Canada alone as estimated by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.  Fantasy sports are a form of sports gambling which are largely accepted in the mainstream media, and are a multi-billion dollar industry.  However, in its simplest form fantasy sports are not much different from player bets which are considered illegal.  In fantasy sports gambling, people wager money that certain players will perform better than others.  Despite how it makes no sense for spread betting or over-under betting to be illegal and gambling on fantasy sports to be legal, websites such as FanDuel have thousands of people betting and winning millions of dollars, and are supported by major sports leagues.  It just doesn’t seem reasonable for this to be legal, yet betting on games to be illegal, when the forms of betting are so similar.  In my opinion, the solution to this incongruity would be to legalize all forms of sports gambling, and many people, including NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, agree with me.

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