Legal Sports Betting in U.S. could encourage problem gambling

Sports betting is all set for a legal market in the U.S., as concerned agencies look to profit out of a problem gambler’s pocket. A glimpse into UK society might reveal what the future holds.

Who doesn’t like to make a quick buck? Since childhood, we have been placing friendly, innocuous bets with our friends and relatives on the outcome of future events – driven not just by plain arrogance in our predictive capabilities but also by the thrill of winning money over our fellow betters. Most of those bets are lost, re-assuring our young minds about the potential risk involved with gambling. Such sound judgement, though, is often misplaced on a majority of people. As monetary shortage escalates with adulthood, they become problem gamblers; routinely indulging in legal or illegal betting with the promise of a big win right around the corner. In the U.S., as per estimates from the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), they constitute around 3-4% of the adult population.

Gambling on the outcome of sporting events, or sports betting, is a lucrative market that grabs the attention of such gamblers all over the world. Bettors place wagers not only on the outcome of a sporting event, but also on player performances and statistics within the game.

Up until recently, sports betting in the U.S. was illegal in all states, except Nevada; with Americans spending an estimated $150 billion each year on illegal wagers. In May 2018, the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that prohibited states to gamble on the result of sporting events – opening the door for states to pass legislation that could regulate and eventually tax legal sports betting.

The decision has met with tremendous approval among state officials, major professional sports leagues, and the gambling industry – all of whom seek to reap a profit from the business. While the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) states that “the ruling would create an open, transparent and responsible market for sports betting”, they also hope to earn around $500 million annually in ‘integrity fee’ – a percentage of revenue paid by betting agencies to supposedly ‘curb down corruption’ in sports league.

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