Why The US Government Should Legalize Sports Betting

There are many reasons why the US government should make sports betting legal, and this is our thoughts on the matter. For nearly 25 years, there has been a very limited amount of legal sports betting in the United States. On October 28th, 1992, former President George H. W. Bush signed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PSPA) into law, which effectively made sports betting illegal in all but four states. Since then, though the number of states with legal sports betting has not grown, the popularity of betting on sports has. Americans spend billions of dollars wagering on sports each year, though only a small percentage of this is spent via legal sports betting. With Delaware offering NFL parlay cards and Nevada being the only state with single game wagering, sports fans are opting to use unregulated online sportsbooks. Though legitimate offshore online sportsbooks are safe, they still present issues that make a case for why sports betting should be legalized.

While there are those who make arguments to oppose the legalization of sports betting, there are hundreds of research studies that present the undeniable benefits of regulation. Issues concerning the integrity games, problem gambling, and consumer protections can all be resolved when considering certain aspects of why sports betting should be legalized.

New Jersey is one such state that has thoroughly researched the impact of wagering on sports in its ongoing legal journey to bring regulated sports betting to the state. The Garden State has made several attempts to pass sports betting legislation, however the NCAA, MLB, NFL, NHL, and NBA have filed subsequent lawsuits and won. Now, the state currently awaits trial where the U.S. Supreme Court will hear their sports betting case.

While NJ’s appeal will center around the unconstitutionality of PASPA, there are still several other reasons why sports betting should be legalized and regulated in the United States. To further elaborate, you will find 5 reasons to legalize sports betting below.

Sports Betting Is Already Happening In The USA

Donald Trump has been quoted multiple times expressing a similar sentiment about why sports betting should be legalized, but this blanket statement actually has several deeper layers. Sports betting is more than “just happening”- it is a multi-billion dollar industry. According to the American Gaming Association, Americans place nearly $150 billion in illegal sports bets per year. $88 billion is said to be spent entirely during the NFL and NCAA football seasons. It is clear that sports betting is popular amongst American sports fans, so why not regulate sports betting rather than having bettors turn to illegal channels?

The Integrity Of Sports Can Be Protected

History has shown that sports betting was once connected with the criminal underworld, which is why it makes sense that maintaining the integrity of games was a real issue 25 years ago. In today’s day in age, there is enough technology to prevent interference and provide protection. The United Kingdom is one such example of a successful betting market that has had no major issues to concerning maintaining integrity. In the United States, we can look to other international sports betting markets as models for future regulation. Being able to better protect the integrity of games is one of the important reasons why sports betting should be legalized. In fact, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed a similar thought in a 2017 interview:

“Sports gambling has changed a lot. The old vision of betting illegally with a bookie somewhere is not today’s world. And, we’ve begun a conversation, educating people about what’s out there, what sports leagues in other countries have done, in an effort to make sure that Major League Baseball’s ready to join in what I think is going to be a dialogue about how sports gambling regulation in the United States should be changed.”

Public Attitudes Have Changed With Legal Sports Betting

Simply put, Americans want to be able to bet on sports and have proved this with their spending habits. There have also been polls showing that the overall attitude toward sports betting is positive amongst citizens. A poll * https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5696d0f14bf118aff8f1d23e/t/593b2bd017bffc1f7c5616a1/1497050064918/ASBC_FactSheet.pdf *conducted for the American Gaming Association by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (GQR) presented concrete evidence that Americans believe in sports betting. 72% of avid sports fans believe that the federal ban on sports betting should be lifted. The study also found that should sports betting become legal, about 28 million people would be more inclined to wager on sports.

Sports Leagues Have Changed Their Stance On Legal Sports Betting

While the NCAA and other major professional sports leagues have taken legal action against sports betting in the US, their overall attitudes are more favorable than in the past. League executives are able to see the reasons why sports betting should be legalized and have become more open to discussing regulation. Heads of players’ unions have been meeting for over a year to discuss how regulated sports betting would impact their players. Though only one Commissioner has come out in outright support of legalized sports betting, you can see from the statements below that the professional sports leaders have relaxed their stance.

Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner, in November 2015 & July 2017:

“…[T]he laws on sports betting should be changed. Congress should adopt a federal framework that allows states to authorize betting on professional sports, subject to strict regulatory requirements and technological safeguards…sports betting should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated.”

“If there’s going to be a change in the regulatory structure with respects to sports gambling, we [need] to be in a position to meaningfully engage and shape… what the new regulatory scheme looks like. We’re in the process of talking to our owners and figuring out where we want to be in the event that there is, in fact, a significant change coming.”

David Stern, Former NBA Commissioner, in October 2015:

“There should be federal legislation that says, ‘Let’s go all the way’ and have betting on sports. It’s OK. It’s going to be properly regulated. …I think that gives a way for states to make more money, for leagues to be compensated for their intellectual property, and for the federal government to take [away] illegally bet money and put it through the federal coffers.”

Rob Manfred, MLB Commissioner, in March 2017:

“The fact of the matter is, those rules are actually easier to enforce if it’s all aboveboard, regulated federally and everybody knows what’s going on. It can actually improve the integrity issue.”

Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner, in June 2015:

“I don’t worry about the integrity of the game … Our players are professionals. Their integrity, their values are right on, so that’s not the issue from our standpoint ….”

Economic Benefits Of Making Sports Betting Legal

In America, it all comes downs to what makes the most financial sense. By not capitalizing on the multibillion dollar sports betting industry, the US is losing out on local, state, and federal tax revenues. According to a report by Oxford Economics * https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5696d0f14bf118aff8f1d23e/t/593dd28ee58c62c93bcfff94/1497223822296/ASBC_Oxford_Economics.pdf * for the American Sports Betting Coalition, the United States could generate anywhere between $4.8 billion and $5.3 billion in tax revenue. Not to mention that regulated sports betting could have a total economic impact of $26.6 billion. The same report found that legalized sports betting would improve employment in the USA, creating an additional 125,000 jobs with over $6.0 billion paid in total wages.