Sports Betting: The New Online Gambling Scene

Photo Credit: Stephen Speranza of NYT

Sports betting has been a pastime for thousands of years— it has been a way to make extra money, support a team or to just to add another fun and exciting aspect to watching sports. Whether it’s football, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) or horse racing, people love to try their luck and see if they can earn some cash. Even though sports betting is nothing new, it has been a point of contention for both the federal and state governments in the U.S., as betting was federally illegal before 2018, being allowed only in Nevada casinos and a handful of establishments in other states.

However, that year, the Supreme Court ruled that the prohibition was unconstitutional and various gambling companies seized this opportunity to lobby in favor of sports betting. Lobbyists touted the fact that legalized sports gambling will bring large amounts of revenue to the state and discourage illegal, unauthorized betting, to much success. The campaign has been remarkably successful, as 31 states and Washington D.C. all permit either online or in-person gambling as of Nov. 9.

Particularly in New York, online sports betting was just recently legalized this past January. Companies like FanDuel and DraftKings have been aggressively advertising their apps to sports fans. Before this, people would drive over the border to New Jersey or Connecticut to bypass their location lock and allow them to place bets over the phone. With this recent legislation, sports gambling is easier than ever for New Yorkers, and this shift has taken place in many other states as well.

The prevalence of sports betting has brought concerns to management and fans alike, as many argue that gambling takes away from the integrity of the game, explaining that those who have placed their money and faith into a certain team may try to shift matches in their favor. Fans can also potentially develop a gambling addiction, as they are able to place bets within their own home and with the tap of a button on their screen, making it easier than ever to gamble. For lovers of the game, they believe the focus should be on sports rather than the potential money making opportunities.

Now, these companies have begun to target colleges and universities, offering millions of dollars to promote their betting apps, as popular Nevada-based casino Caesar’s offered a five-year deal of $8.4 million to Michigan State University. This is just one of the many agreements brokered between educational institutions and sports gambling companies. Louisiana State University agreed to a deal with Caesar’s in 2021 and the University of Colorado Boulder took a $1.6 million deal in 2020, showing how this campaign has branched out beyond major league sports.  There are benefits that must be acknowledged, like the increase in revenue and job opportunities as well as the encouragement of interest in sports. This benefit is especially felt after the pandemic, as universities lost money throughout the 2021-22 school year and sports betting has been able to offset that deficit. Yet, online betting is still something new, and its full effects have yet to be seen until more studies are done over the following years. Until then, fans must play responsibly and remain aware of the dangers of gambling addiction, while still enjoying the love of the game.