Is Online Sports Betting Dangerous?

Editor’s note: In this Future View, students discuss sports betting. Next week we will ask: “A recent poll asked what young Americans think about defending their country. In the face of the Russian invasion, would you stay in Ukraine and fight for your country if it were attacked in a similar way? Or would you go?” Students should click here to submit their opinions of less than 250 words before April 5th. The best answers will be published that night.

According to the National Center for Responsible Gaming, approximately 1% of US adults have a serious gambling problem. This is small compared to the 6% to 9% of adolescents and young adults who have gambling-related problems.

This addiction is growing at an alarming rate among young people. When we normalize gambling, we only expose the most vulnerable – those who don’t understand it’s a problem – until it’s too late.

A college should be a safe place for students and not a place where they are exposed to an activity that has been shown to be highly addictive. TV networks should limit the times they expose young, impressionable viewers to gambling and ensure it is not talked about during those times.

– Malize Evans, Harvard University, Marketing

Stock trading is similar to sports betting

Sports betting is no different from other risk-based financial markets. The stock market is one such example. While owning stocks is better defined as investing — a word I certainly wouldn’t use to describe sports betting — trading stocks, at the extreme, has characteristics similar to gambling.

The relevant example is day trading: most individual day traders end up losing money or not making profits over the broad market. Of course, financial analysts, bankers, and hedge fund brokers will denounce this statement, claiming that there is a science behind making profits in the stock markets through trades. They would argue that they study market conditions and other metrics to make purchases. And they would be right, but a sports fan can make a similar argument when it comes to knowing a player or team’s stats. In fact, some national teams hire economists and statisticians to advise them on player swaps to increase their chances of winning national titles.

Concerns about the proliferation of sports gambling and its impact on societal well-being should be no more of a concern than trading stocks or buying cryptocurrencies. There are television stations dedicated to reporting market information to educate investors in the stock market. There is no reason for sports broadcasters or colleges to buck the sports betting trend when a new market emerges. Let the fans bet.

– Kyle Lynaugh, University of Chicago, Public Policy

It’s madness to encourage gambling

Gambling sites are now popping up promising safe and legal betting methods. Is this the direction we want our sports culture to take? And is that the direction we want to go as a society? Sport at both a professional and academic level provides an excellent form of entertainment and an emotional outlet for many around the world.

But sport isn’t without its vices – one of which has proven to be gambling. As the current NCAA basketball tournament nears its conclusion, part of the “madness” is the promotion of sports betting. For a student athlete, sport is a way to continue their passion, get an education and, in some cases, work towards a career. The rising popularity of sports betting puts these athletes at risk of throwing it all away. When players and coaches engage in any form of sports betting, there is a risk of match-fixing, point shaving and other misconduct. The Chicago White Sox had a scandal that saw eight players banned from the league for allegedly rigging the 1919 World Series.

In many cases, mainstreaming sports betting seems harmless, but it does walk a fine line between entertainment and a dangerous system.

—Alexandra Luehrman, Quinnipiac University, Law in Society

A time-honoured tradition

Sports betting is only going mainstream in the sense that a once illegal market is now becoming legal. People have been playing during the Greek Olympics and there is little reason to think we will stop any time soon. Gambling will happen whether or not governments allow it – and whether the media reports on it. The relevant question is whether clearer rules and better information are problems – and the answer is clearly no.

Legalizing sports betting enforces contracts, reduces industry corruption and increases tax revenues for our heavily indebted governments. The social condemnation of gambling only makes inexperienced bettors more vulnerable to industry professionals and embarrassing those with gambling addictions not to seek help. Our best course of action as a society is to open the doors and let people have fun.

– Sarah Eckhardt, University of Wisconsin, Economics

Make America Like Sin City

Failure to resist the wave of popular gambling is a recipe for a host of social ills for which we are ill-prepared. Growing up in Las Vegas, I witnessed the zombified crowds crowding the slot machines and poker tables.

These are not happy people pursuing a hobby, they are addicts on an endless quest that is tearing families apart and ruining financial futures. It is not worth.

There are no social benefits in encouraging this practice, but there are a lot of social ills. Keep gambling in the shadows where the interested can seek it out, but keep it out of the mainstream where the unsuspecting might be lured in.

—Sam Cox, Columbia University, Dentistry

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