Game Changer: New gambling law’s impact on the sports industry

 photo via CNN

photo via CNN

By Dominic Santina
Co-Sports Editor


In May 2018, a decision came from the Supreme Court that sent shock waves through the sports industry. The court upheld a New Jersey bid by a vote of 6-3. The proposed bid was to allow legal gambling at horse race tracks and casinos. One common misconception of this decision is that all gambling is legalized. However, the wager between person to person will still remain illegal.

The decision struck down a law called the Bradley Act that was passed in 1992. The law said states were not allowed to have sports gambling except for Nevada and three other states that already had it in place. The Supreme Court found that the bill was against the tenth amendment, which in summary says that the government can not tell the states what to regulate.    

With the bill being overturned, it now opens the idea up to the nation. Each state will have the option to decide if gambling should be allowed and what the regulations would be. Not all states may choose to legalize gambling. Those that do, have the option to move quickly or take their time. States such as New Jersey, West Virginia and Delaware have already passed laws. Michigan on the other hand has a bill in congress, but no progress has been made on it, as they are now in recess. Many people point to Michigan passing it but the final word is still up in the air.

With the United States now legalizing sports gambling and each state having the option, it can lead to some major impacts. Many other countries have legalized sports gambling, including a big portion of Europe.  

Some countries have found that legalizing gambling has given them a new revenue source in the millions or sometimes billions of dollars. One such country is Australia, which found in 2017, that 25 percent of the money spent gambling was related to sports gambling. Like the United States, Australia has allowed their citizens to bet on almost all of their sports.

In regards to amounts that Americans wager, Jason Robins, CEO of DraftKings, a sports gambling company, said, "...$150 billion illegally each year through offshore, black-market bookies.” Now that gambling is legalized, that could be billions of dollars put into the economy, which is why many states are considering legalizing it as they recognize the opportunity.

Scott MacDonald, president of marketing for United Shore Professional Baseball League, said, “Casinos have always done well because the House always wins. By making sports gambling legal it can assist in illegal activity and add a consistent revenue source for the government.”

While it can leave lasting impacts on the economy and bring in a huge revenue, there are some concerns that come with legalizing gambling. Some concerns that have developed in other countries could become a concern for the United States as well. In Ghana, there has been a concern about young kids getting exposed and becoming addicted to gambling.

“It’s all about education. There is a reason that the saying goes, ‘The House always wins.’ If you share the education on the pros and cons, then people can make the best decision as to what works for them. Parents are the key,” MacDonald said.

Parents always play a big role in these types of situations. Being alert and paying attention makes a difference. Dave Hutson, sports management professor at Rochester College said one of those differences could have to do with viewership of sporting events. He believes that gambling will generate more interest in the sports industry, as people are more invested into the game.

“I think with people being so invested it could lead down a path that could impact the integrity of sports. With people having so much invested in the games, would someone be willing to try and manipulate what is happening on the field or court? There is a possibility of people approaching players and having them miss passes or a shot here or there,” Hutson said.

Hutson went on to say that he knows that all four of the major sports leagues and the NCAA are worried about states legalizing gambling, because of the possibility of this happening. That is why RC athletic director Klint Pleasant is skeptical about allowing gambling and it being linked to college athletics.    

“I don’t like it, college athletes are under enough stress and pressure as it is,” Pleasant said. “I believe that legalizing gambling would only make things more difficult. It could potentially increase the chances of gamblers putting together scams to throw games. Lastly, I would hate for athletes and coaches to have to begin paying attention to the lines on games instead of just focusing on their job.”

Pleasant, who is also the head basketball coach, went on to say that the NCAA is going to have their hands full when it comes to keeping order and limiting player contact with gamblers.

“I think this is where the NCAA will have its work cut out for them. It will be interesting to see how they continue to react to not only the recent Supreme Court ruling, but what each state might do. I think the NCAA’s reaction to this will be very important, and ultimately speak to the question of eligibility,” Pleasant said.

The NCAA has already had issues with gambling dating back to the late 1970s with the Boston College basketball team who got involved in a point shaving scandal. In the MLB, Pete Rose illegally gambled on himself in baseball games. These major gambling problems happened  while it was illegal, so how will this turn out now that it is legal?

Those are some of the obstacles that leagues are going to have to deal with, just like they have in the past with recruiters and agents paying college athletes money, along with drug use, sexual abuse, and many other things. This is only the beginning of the numerous stories you will see about sports gambling. Let’s hope the majority are for the billions of dollars it can bring to our economies, not the illegal activities that those in the sports industry are concerned about.