Saturday, March 14, 2009

Legalizing Sports Betting

For a long time I have wondered here and elsewhere why there is no state sanctioned sports betting. It isn't like gamblers aren't betting on sports in areas where there is no legal way to do so.

From what I have heard, you can simply walk into pretty much any bar and get "parlay cards", or bet on games online.

Since these activities are already going on, why have states been so anguished about setting up organized betting for them? We all pretty much have lotteries where we can bet on RANDOM numbers, so why not on sports games? Vegas has dialed in the sports betting ratios and how to run a sports book long ago; there aren't any real secrets in that realm. Set the spread so you get half the bets on one side, half on the other and collect the "juice" or "vig". Simple as that.

Well, with many states budgets in the toilet, there is movement toward state sponsored sports betting. Delaware looks like the first state east of the Mississippi to allow betting on sports games through their state sponsored system.

I love this quote from a representative of the NFL:
"Our policy on this issue has been consistent for decades." NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote me in an email. "We have been an active proponent of federal and state legislation that prohibits the spread of legal sports gambling. We do not want our games used as bait."

Hate to let you in on the worst kept secret in the nation, Mr. Aiello, but that horse left the barn a long time ago. Bars and bookies everywhere use your league as a great source of revenue every fall, and they also use the NCAA and other sports leagues.

The casinos in Vegas and elsewhere are responsible for driving gamblers to local watering holes and bookies for their action. The truth is that if gamblers could sit at home and place their wagers they would prefer it. From the same article, this looks like a first step toward that.
PricewaterhouseCoopers reported that the United States stands to earn $52 billion over the next decade by taxing, rather than policing, Internet gaming sites, mainly those focused on poker. That news prompted Congressman Barney Frank (D, Mass.) to announce that, later this month, he'll propose a bill overturning the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act of 2006, which bars banks and credit card companies from making payments to known online gambling sites. The law has made it difficult for many betting sites to do business in the U.S.

Uh oh. Even though internet gambling in the US in still in its first stages, this looks like a serious crack in the armor. It was only a matter of time before states and the feds realized that they are getting a zero cut out of an immense cash business.

I think within 10 years or so the choices of where one may place a wager on a sporting event in the US will be many.

Cross posted at ChicagoBoyz.

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