For Sports Betting Legalization

By Sean Overton, Sports Writer

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The legalization of betting on sports events has been a highly controversial topic recently, and I believe that it should be legalized across the country. First off, many people struggle with gambling addiction, and I am sympathetic to those who struggle with this. That being said, sports betting is only a small portion of all gambling occurring in the United States. Sports betting is legal and operational in 18 states (plus Washington, D.C.). Four additional states have passed bills legalizing it, with another nine other states having active bills. Other forms of gambling, such as lotteries, commercial and tribal are all legalized in more states than sports betting.

Although sports betting is just a small percentage of all gambling occurring in the nation, it has an even lower proportion of gambling addiction cases. ESPN reported that less than 1% of all callers to the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling Helpline in 2014 listed sports betting as the form of gambling that they struggled with the most. These hotlines receive calls regarding lotteries, scratch-off tickets and casino activities such as slots and poker much more often.

The Delaware lottery placed nearly 2 million more sports bets in 2014 than in 2009, and Delaware’s council on problem gambling says that they have not seen a noticeable increase in calls regarding sports betting. This may be an indicator that sports betting is not as addictive as many other types of gambling.

Lotteries are one of the most addictive forms of gambling, and yet they are legal in 44 states. The odds of winning the Powerball are roughly 1 in 292,201,338, and yet the majority of states allow people to spend their money on it. Massive sports betting parlays can have odds similar to this, but for the most part, the odds are significantly better. This allows far more people to make money on sports gambling than on Powerball or lotteries in general, and yet it is only legal in 18 states.

Another huge benefit of legalizing sports betting is the taxes that it brings in. Gambling, in general, is often a huge boost to the economy, and sports betting would make it even larger. The taxes taken from sports betting often go towards roads and education, both necessary parts of our infrastructure. An Oxford Economics study estimated a gross gaming revenue of $11.9 billion per year if sports betting was legalized in casino, retail, and online locations.

The same study also estimated that at a base tax rate (10%) with moderate availability, the combined gaming tax revenue for the US would be $1,547,000,000. All of this money going towards roads and education could have huge results.

Many people also participate in illegal sports betting, most commonly through bookies or online betting with offshore operators. A GMA study based on the Oxford Economics study estimated that the illegal sports betting market produces $150 billion in wagers every year.

Essentially, the U.S. is missing out on 150 billion taxable dollars each year simply because they haven’t legalized sports betting. And if it is legalized, more people will be betting, so that number goes up naturally.

Legalizing sports gambling also can help shrink corruption in sports. Many people think that the opposite would happen, but in reality, it would create a lower liquid and more regulated gambling market. Currently, the market is highly liquid and under-regulated, and the legalization of sports betting would help to change that and help to shrink corruption.

At the end of the day, nobody is forced to participate in sports betting. Of course, having more sports betting will naturally increase gambling addiction, but at a lower proportion of gambling addiction cases compared to other gambling types such as slots, lottery and scratch-offs. The choice for an individual to participate in sports betting is completely voluntary. I am simply arguing that the option to participate should be there for those who want it. I think that the positives greatly outnumber the negatives and that sports betting would do much more good than harm.


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