Sports betting throughout many parts of the world is legal and deemed an integral part of the sporting scene in those countries. These countries include Great Britain, Australia, Mexico, South Africa, Spain and many more (ESPN staff, 2018). The laws allow for betting on any sport, both within these countries and internationally including American sport.
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The issue was raised as an idea in the United States when the state of New Jersey challenged the constitutional law that made sport betting illegal outside of Nevada (Wolf, 2018). The supreme court justices ruled the law preventing bets to be placed on individual games to be unconstitutional allowing other states to join Nevada in the sport betting world (Wolf, 2018). The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Football league (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) all tried to block the change citing issues like increased risk, cost and cultural challenges (Wolf, 2018).
The opposition from major sporting leagues is well founded with many examples of corruption stemming from illegal fraudulent activity surrounding gambling. The NCAA has a strong stance on gambling with the following statement “The NCAA opposes all forms of legal and illegal sports wagering, which has the potential to undermine the integrity of sports contests and jeopardizes the welfare of student-athletes and the intercollegiate athletics community” (Osburn, 2018). This has proven true throughout history with multiple counts in a variety of sports where referees, players and coaches have been involved in fixing or point shaving games for personal and gambling gains (Chase, 2018). Two of the most famous fixing stories to come out of American sport are the 1919 Black Sox who had eight players help throw the game for gamblers and NBA Referee Tim Donaghy who fed information to gamblers and bet on NBA games in 2007 to pay off accrued gambling debt (Chase, 2018). This backs up the NCAA’s statement that players and sporting community could be damaged by members of the community being persuaded to help gamblers for financial gain in an amateur sport organization.
The sporting leagues are forced to buy into sport gambling if it is made legal due to the economic benefits it can bring (Heifetz). The salaries of elite sports people are increasing at a very high rate and the income for leagues and teams needs to increase proportionally for them to remain viable. Gambling throughout European sport provides another source of income for teams and leagues as they sell advertising and partnership rights to gambling companies for a fee (Heifetz, 2018). This has allowed them to compete with other teams both in their league and across international competitions (Heifetz, 2018). For some sports betting is believed to increase attendance, ratings and overall fan involvement due to their introduction to the sport due to gambling (Heifetz, 2018). It is not all financial gain for the organizations as they inherit some risk of their players or personnel being susceptible to being bribed to help fix or influence their games (Smith, 2018). This leads to more monitoring and anti-fraud committees being required. Although many argue that even without sports betting being legalized there have been cases of tampering, many believe it will make it easier to catch the perpetrators if they try to do it through legalized gambling.
People are also worried that legalized gambling will increase the number of problem gamblers and the burden will then fall to the states to look after these people that are addicted. The fear is also that with legal gambling being more visible and advertised that it will introduce the younger generation to gambling. The other risk is that betting counts on there being more losers than winners and that is not always the case compared to casino games (Heifetz, 2018).
It is not only the leagues, players, or gambling companies that will see this new-found money but the states that choose to legalize it within their state (Heifetz, 2018). West Virginia has already earmarked the new-found revenue from sports betting to fund the increase in teacher salaries (Heifetz, 2018). But due to the tight margins on sports betting and depending on what tax rate the states elect to impose on these betting companies will determine how much money they will be afforded.
Sport gambling is now a normal part of the global sporting world due to the increased revenue it can bring leagues and teams. It helps to make the sport more interesting for spectators and enthusiasts throughout the world. It also brings inherent risk for all parties involved that must be accounted for with the introduction of legalized gambling.
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