The Status Quo of Sports Betting in the United States

Sport is no doubt one of the most popular pastimes for people.

It doesn’t matter if you’re simply a spectator or an actual participant. Sports brings a level of enjoyment that cannot be surpassed by other forms of hobbies or entertainment.

Getting involved in sports has always been considered as a way to build discipline, promote camaraderie, and maintain good health. With the prevalence of sports as an important activity for all cultures around the world, there’s no wonder why the sports industry has evolved to bring in multi-billion-dollar revenues.

The reality is, not everyone can play sports professionally. In lieu of this, sports fans become dedicated to watching and following sports leagues instead. As a result of the mass following for sports, betting on sports odds has become another aspect of this activity.

While it’s been practiced for a very long time, mainstream sports betting has only happened within the last few decades. There is no surprise that gambling and sports are a perfect combination. This combination doubles the earnings of those who capitalize on the enjoyment brought by gambling as well as the entertainment value of sports.


Why prohibit sports betting?

If you live in the US and would like to participate in sports betting, you’re out of luck. Sports betting is illegal in most US States with the exception of course of the states of Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana.

This prohibition came about in 1992 when the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was passed in Congress. Does this mean that the US is missing out on the potential revenue brought about by sports betting legalization? Here are some arguments that rationalize why a majority of the voting public feels that sports betting should be legalized:

  • Regardless if sports betting is illegal, it continues to thrive as an industry bringing in an estimated revenue of $80-300 billion. People who would like to bet on sports do so by participating in offshore bookmakers and online gambling websites. This is still considered a risky activity because offshore betting sites are not always well-regulated. The benefit of legalization allows participants to get an extra level of protection through fair play and regulation.
  • A strong rationale to legalize sports betting is the economic gain. It will bring jobs to many residents of the US on top of the tax revenues.
  • Game fixing is still rampant and prevails in the sports betting scene. With stricter regulations, it will become harder to fix the outcome of games, making it fairer for all who bet.

There are still many arguments claiming that legalization is not a solution but will only continue to enable the problem. Even if sports betting becomes legal, people may still prefer to bet with unregulated online bookmakers because they offer lines of credit.

This means that anyone can bet on a game even without depositing any money. Another argument used to dissuade legalization is the possibility that it will further commercialize the sports scene. Instead of the joy found in watching the game, people will become more focused on winning money on the bets that they placed.


The current situation

The ongoing issue related to the legalization of sports betting began when New Jersey attempted to challenge the PSPA rule. The electorate added an amendment to the current state constitution legalizing sports betting.

This would then lead to the passing of the Sports Wagering Act by state legislators. Not long after the passing of this law, the major sports leagues in the US contested it claiming that the legalization of sports betting in the State of New Jersey will lead to the corruption of professional and amateur sports. Unfortunately, New Jersey lost the ruling but proceeded to file an appeal in 2016.

Most of the people who have observed and followed the proceedings seem to agree that the decision to the appeal may be in favor of New Jersey. Legal experts also deduce that there are other possible outcomes to this scenario.

First, that the Supreme Court will rule PSPA act as unconstitutional thus allowing all US States to legalize sports betting. The second possible outcome is that the Supreme Court may rule in favor of the PSPA act but also allow the New Jersey law to be imposed so long as it does not violate the latter.

This would mean that New Jersey will be allowed to legalize sports betting but will not be able to impose any regulations. The third outcome is that New Jersey will lose the proceeding thus ending the battle to allow legal sports betting for the time being.


The future of sports betting

There is the certain imminent possibility of more US states pushing for legalization. In the meantime, the sports betting scene continues to look forward to a lucrative future.

While a majority of sports betting in the US can only be done in places where it’s legal such as Nevada, there is no denying that a large amount of activity still goes to offshore betting companies.

US-based betting companies would have to remain competitive in order to edge out the competition of offshore bookmakers. New betting models are being explored in Nevada to encourage the betting public to make a shift from illegal sports betting markets to legal sports betting markets.

Certainly, a major consideration is getting the approval of sports leagues within the country. There is a need to come up with an approach that is more practical. Government agencies, especially lawmakers are challenged to come up with policies related to the legalization of sports betting that will benefit both the gaming industry and the sports industry as well.

At the end of the day, the integrity of sports needs to be protected. Sports leagues have a legitimate claim that once legalization ensues, there will be a tremendous shift in the focus of whether sports should be simply enjoyed as an entertainment or as a gambling activity.

With more progressive insights and changes forthcoming, this is a concern that still remains to be addressed.


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