Sports betting should be legal

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By Blake Wood, Staff Writer

With each passing day sports betting slowly creeps out of the shadows. Prominent sports television stations like ESPN now have gambling experts on staff. Broadcasters openly discuss the spread when a game is in its final minutes. Sports betting is more popular than it has ever been and it should be legal in all fifty states.

As interested as the American public has become in sports betting, it is only legal in the state of Nevada. This is blatant hypocrisy by the United States government. If something is legal in the state of Nevada, other states should be able to make it legal as well. For example, the state of New Jersey attempted to legalize sports betting, but the federal government denied their request and now New Jersey awaits a, likely unfavorable, ruling in the appeals court. Further, allowing Las Vegas to be the only legal home of sports betting gives the state an essential monopoly and forces those who don’t live in the state of Nevada to gamble online illegally or simply be forced not to participate. Every state should be afforded the right to decide for themselves on sports gambling.

Every state should be afforded the right to decide for themselves on sports gambling.”

Americans are going to bet on sports regardless of what the laws are. Offshore gambling websites are very simple to find and are very accessible. However, they are not always safe, and with the legalization of sports betting, the government would be able to regulate the activity. As of today, with sports betting only allowed in the state of Nevada, gamblers are forced to place their trust in offshore websites that are notorious for being stingy with their payouts. With no regulation, these offshore companies are able to operate in any manner that they see fit with little to no consequences. With government regulation, sports wagering could be brought into the public light, making it safer for the citizens. Payouts would be guaranteed, fair play by books or casinos would be ensured and the government would be able to oversee everything to ensure it runs smoothly. With a quick google search one can see the problems with gambling online. Payouts are delayed, as is often the case on sportsbook.eu; accounts are suspiciously shut down when players win too much money. Sites make up an excuse and leave the player out to dry, or players must pay a fee just to pull out their own winnings. It’s an incredibly flawed system, but one that bettors have no choice but to use until the government opts to step in, legalize it and begin regulating sports gambling.

Gambling on sports is a huge industry that the United States is missing out on economically. NBA commissioner Adam Silver estimates “that nearly $400 billion is illegally wagered on sports each year.” The government is losing out on the opportunity to tax those winnings, but the United States economy is also hurt by the continued ban on sports betting. An increase in casinos and sports book would aid struggling economies, such as Galveston, Texas. Canadian gaming association Vice President Paul Burns estimates that the country of Canada sees four billion dollars leave the country that they are unable to tax or get a piece of through revenue sharing. This is an excellent small scale example of the money that the United States is losing out on. The United States is seeing much bigger losses due to Canada having a smaller population, and sports gambling being legal to an extent in Canada, with only parlays being legal, forcing players to bet on multiple games to win rather than a single game wager. Simply choosing not to accept this revenue stream is foolish for the United States, especially given the economic situation of the country. There are almost no repercussions for citizens when betting online so there is nothing stopping them. Instead of letting this continue, sports betting should be legalized, giving the United States a hefty, continuous revenue stream and a boost to the struggling economy.

The legality of daily fantasy sports is an excellent comparison and justification for the legality of sports betting. Daily fantasy is legal because it is a “game of skill”, but in reality, fantasy sports require the same amount of skill as gambling. Sports betting and daily fantasy are extremely similar, with both boiling down to gambling on outcomes, whether that is the winner of a game or a player’s performance. This core similarity is an ideal argument for the legalization of sports wagering. In both cases, money is risked in the hopes that the player has predicted the correct outcome. Allowing Daily Fantasy websites like Fanduel and Draftkings to flood US airwaves with commercials while sports books are locked in the state of Nevada is ridiculous. If Daily Fantasy is legal in the eyes of the government, sports betting should be as well.

The time has come for the legalization of sports gambling. As betting on sports continues to grow and the activity’s prominence continues to rise, the government needs to step in and bring it to the mainstream. Forcing sports betting to remain outside the public eye only hurts the country and its people, and it is time for that to change.