Monday, January 02, 2006

Gambling on Sports

Forever I have wondered why states keep losing revenue to sports betting. Today I have money riding on several bowl games through a bookie. It makes games more enjoyable that I otherwise wouldn't care about and I don't see the problem with sports gambling as long as you have the trash cash and it doesn't become addictive.

I don't know the bookie. I just go to a bar and pick up a few parlay cards, and drop my (small amount of) money off at the bar with my choices. There is a bookie who does this at a bunch of bars in Madison (the parlay cards always have the same format) and I assume he hedges himself either online or with a bookie in Vegas so he has enough for potential payoffs.

For those not in the know, a parlay card is a is a card where the better can choose either a team against the spread in a game or the over/under in a game.

In addition, you can parlay your choices in exchange for odds. You can even play teasers on the card.

I can not remember even once where it has been announced that bars or whatever bookie is actually running the parlay cards has been prosecuted for this very illegal form of gambling.

Why does the state of Wisconsin have a lottery, where people bet on stupid random numbers, but not a sports betting system? How easy would it be to install machines in gas stations, convenience stores and other places that let the player make his picks, insert the money and then the machine would spit out a receipt? Then the state gets more revenue and everything is legal. The bookie who does not pay taxes is out of business and the bars are engaged in one less illegal activity. Or the bookie would have to come up with more innovative products or odds for bettors to gamble on. Any way you slice it, everyone, except the bookie, wins.

So why the aversion for the state to get involved in sports betting? If anyone has any thoughts, I am all ears.

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