While professional sports leagues have tried their best to pretend that gambling does not exist, the fact of the matter is that illegal gambling is everywhere. Professional sports betting is a major business, estimated to be a $3.8 billion industry; however, only about $100 million will be bet legally. This large boom in sports gambling is largely due to it becoming a more generally accepted behavior in society and a good, safe form of entertainment. Such acceptance of gambling is reflected by the fact that most states have lotteries, over half have legal casinos, and a few have approved some form of internet gambling. Sports leagues have historically been opposed to legal sports betting in the United States, but all that may be changing as various commissioners have recently adopted a more pro-betting stance on the issue. Currently, betting on sports is heavily restricted due to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA). This law banned states from regulating sports betting unless they were grandfathered in before PASPA went into effect. Thus, only Nevada offers full sports books, while Delaware, Montana, and Oregon have the right for more limited sports betting options. However, the advancement of technology has made it virtually impossible to confine sports betting to those states in which it is legal.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been the most vocal proponent of revisiting PASPA and creating a federal regulation addressing sports betting. Silver supports a federal regulation that creates “a safe and legal way to wager on professional sporting events.” Many feel that sports betting is a reality that a number of people participate, and thus, it should be brought out of the underground where it can be properly monitored and regulated. Silver suggested a “federal framework that allows states to authorize betting on professional sports, subject to strict regulatory requirements and technological safeguards.”

However, not every league is as vocal and positive regarding sports betting as the NBA and Silver as the NHL and NFL continue their anti-sports betting position. But MLB commissioner Rob Manfred thinks that the issue is an important discussion that needs to be revisited as between the league and the owners on what their institutional position should be. Even the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) is open to exploring the position of legalizing sports betting. The NBPA is open to reconsidering its position because a lot of money is being made from gambling, but it is not going to the people creating the games–owners and players.

Gambling in sports has had a tainted past and is vulnerable to tampering. Many fear that the legalization of gambling in sports will increase the odds that a player might be more tempted to help sway the results of the game or to ramp up the incentive to find new ways to fix games. On the other hand, legal bookmakers have an incentive to prevent match fixing and to ensure the games are honest. Thus, if sports betting becomes legalized and a regulated market, there would be many private business people who would help police sports to ensure an even playing field. Many believe that regulating the industry would help eradicate the gambling scandals that have historically been associated with major professional sports.

Even states have become more vocal about wanting to encourage sports betting, with some even taking the steps to try pass legislation to permit such activity. States like New Jersey, Minnesota, and Kansas have all taken steps to try to permit sports betting. Whether or not legalized gambling is a positive thing for the sports world, it is definitely an issue that needs to be reevaluated and addressed as sports betting is not an activity that will cease to exist any time soon.

Sara Whaley

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2 Responses to Revisiting Professional Sports’ Stance on Betting

  1. Risk management is one of the key elements of your sports betting activity. You can minimize the risk by picking up the best sports book with outstanding software and an unparalleled odds database. All bettors should check out the legitimacy, and reputation of the betting site in the industry. By registering with a legal sports betting site, you can enjoy a safe and risk-free betting experience.

  2. Neil Issar says:

    If there’s a shift towards acceptance of gambling in sports, does that merit revisiting Pete Rose’s eligibility for the Baseball Hall of Fame?