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May 14, 2018, in Murphy vs National Collegiate Athletic Associationthe United States Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which banned commercial sports betting in most states, violated the 10thAmendment to the United States Constitution.  

The Supreme Court majority argued the lawillegally empowered the federal government to order certain states to take specific actions to disallow sports gambling. In one opinion, the Supreme Court opened the biggest possible expansion of legalized betting in the US in years.

States are now set loose to pass laws allowing whatever sports betting seems most lucrative to them, and this is the real bottom line…states starting with New Jersey want their piece of an estimated $150 billion annual haul in illegal sports betting.  By legalizing sports betting, or as proponents call it “regulating” sports betting, state legislatures get the chance to funnel funds to their own coffers. And no question there’s a lot of moola out there with legal and illegal sports wagering biggest per year with the run up to the Super Bowl and during March Madness.

So far, states are supposedly considering licensing a limited number of companies to offer sports betting, within a limited number of forums. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, and Mississippi will all likely open sports betting in the next twelve to twenty-four months. At this point, maybe 20 states are considering sports betting. More will jump on the new gravy train – for the record, gambling has been legal in Nevada since 1931, so even Nevada gambling houses will benefit as gambling goes mainstream.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has been the most stalwart in its opposition to legalized sports wagering. “Our highest priorities in any conversation about sports wagering are maintaining the integrity of competition and student-athlete well-being,” said Mark Emmert, NCAA president. “Sports wagering can adversely impact student-athletes and undermine the games they play. We are committed to ensuring that laws and regulations promote a safe and fair environment for the nearly half a million students who play college athletics.”  Well said, but what now?

Along with the NCAA, at least until recently, professional leagues—NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL—have also been wary of sports wagering. They rightly remember the 1919 Black Sox scandal in which eight Chicago White Sox players were accused of losing on purpose, i.e. fixing the outcome of, the World Series, so the Cincinnati Reds would win and the players would earn gambling payouts. The Black Sox Eight were all banned from professional baseball and the Hall of Fame, a forerunner of Cincinnati Reds major leagues hit leader Pete Rose’s sports betting and subsequent 1989 banishment for life from major league baseball and the Hall of Fame.

The NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL seemed to support upholding the 1992 PASPA, supposedly fearing for the integrity of their sports—a legitimate consideration—until the NBA and MLB waffled in the end. But this said, none of the professional leagues are really threatened financially by the ruling and may even gain from it.  

And the MLB and NBA are open to legalized sports betting. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver became the first professional sports executive to suggest that sports betting should be legal. In November 2014, Silver wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times supporting sports wagering. MLB allows betting on Toronto Blue Jay games in Ontario. The NFL ignores betting on games played in London. 

Fantasy sports sights have become a huge movement in the past five years. So far, fantasy sports are legally considered games of skill - not chance - if they can be won by successfully utilizing superior knowledge of the players involved.  But pay-to-play sites take a piece of every payout, about $35 average per player per month.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 included “carve out” language that clarified the legality of fantasy sports. It was passed by Congress and signed into law on October 13, 2006. FanDuel and Draftkings the biggest online sites.  

FanDuel, 2009, and DraftKings, 2012, used that carve-out to create daily online fantasy sports games with cash prizes sometimes as high as $2 million. In 2017, the two accounted for about 90 percent of the $320 million in revenue generated by fantasy sports. Question now is, will fantasy sports players switch to online sports betting sites sure to be developed in the wake of the Murphy vs. NCAA ruling?

Already the NBA and NHL invest in fantasy sports (gambling?) websites—The NBA partnered with FanDuel, while Major League Baseball and the NHL joined DraftKings. 

Sports betting is like gambling kindergarten. It’s the easiest and quickest way for children and youth to begin gambling because it taps into athletics opportunities that are ubiquitous. Sports wagering, like most gambling, especially lotteries, tend to “tax” the poor rather than those with higher incomes, becoming a burden on already financially stressed families. And sports wagering robs the game, the sheer joy of competition, of its beauty, something sports has enjoyed back to the first Greek Olympics and before. People who get in deep, whether via fantasy sports sites or social gambling, testify to the change in their attitudes about the game, which goes from who is best and who wins to what has to happen for me to make good on my bet?

Most importantly, sports betting is a direct threat to the integrity of free and fair competition between individuals or teams on the court, course, field, pitch, or any other sports format. Without the sense that competition is indeed fair, played by the rules of good sportsmanship such that the best man or best woman or best team wins, sports becomes a charade, a silly act like professional wrestling. Sports becomes a joke. 

And let no one believe that somehow athletes, coaches, umpires and referees today have somehow become morally stronger since the Black Sox. No one is above the overwhelming temptation money presents.  Murphy vs. NCAA was ill-advised to say the least, and our culture and many families will pay the price.

 

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2018   

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with meat www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

 

Gambling continues to plaque our society and my use of a word like "plague" gives away my perspective. Gambling is not a good thing in any way, shape, or form. It does not produce; it only takes. It does not build up; it tears down. Gambling is presented as "gaming," yet it's impact upon long-term gamblers, many who become "problem gamblers," is anything but fun and games. 

Ironically, no one knows this better than serious gamblers who will tell you, as they have me, "No one wins at gambling." In fact, likely the greatest cynics about gambling are those who operate casinos in places like Las Vegas. Their comments are devastating about the people they see come and go, people who lose not only their money but often their self-respect. This is true even if the people doing the losing are "Whales," the wealthy big fish the casinos like to hook because they lose so much and lose often.

Gambling is a time bomb in a pretty package. It may tick slowly for a given person, but it does tick and it will someday go off.

All this makes it especially perplexing to hear about Christians gambling or to hear some of them defend the practice as just so much harmless entertainment. With them I must respectfully disagree.  Gambling is a no-win proposition that undermines first a bank account, then social and/or professional relationships, then a life. And there is much in Scripture that speaks if not "about" gambling than certianly "to" gambling.

Here's more on the subject: 

 

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

Local communities continue to grab for the brass ring, their pot of gold at the end of a rainbow called casino gambling. Problem is, when they get there the pot of gold is either empty or being taken elsewhere. Gambling rarely if ever delivers the economic wellbeing communities expect.

Meanwhile gambling stimulates or at least makes more likely a long list of individual and social pathologies. These not-so-good spin-offs ("negative externalities," the economists call them) of gambling are rarely reported: higher rates of suicide and divorce, skyrocketing incidences of bankruptcy, job absenteeism, petty crime, and more. If these sorts of social indicators associated with gambling are not often reported, the costs incurred because of them in health care and criminal justice are even less often reported. If they were, if an accurate cost/benefit analysis could be honestly developed, it would most often demonstrate that casinos in the long run do not benefit local communities, a few constructions jobs in the beginning and a few card dealer jobs ongoing notwithstanding.

Here's more on community casinos:

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

 

Gambling continues to grow, though it slowed a bit during the last recession. More women are gambling, and some say they like slot machines because it's one of the few things they can do where they don't have to deal with men. 

But the growth of gambling is not good news. It's not an answer to our economic problems, and it is not a harmless game. Gambling is still threatening, economically for sure, socially or personally too. Gambling does not produce anything and contributes nothing of redeeming social value to our culture. And there's no such thing as luck.

Here are a few more thoughts on what's happening with gambling, a bad bet no matter how you cut the deck:

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

A few years ago I wrote a book on gambling--not pro but con. I'm against gambling in all its forms. I thought then and still think now that gambling is an ingenious way to bilk people out of their money. Just design a game in which people give you money to play. There you have it. Pay to play and pay you do if you gamble very much. 

My book is entitled "Gambling: Don't Bet On It" and it's still available in print in a revised edition. I wrote the book mostly in 1996 just before the Internet became publicly available. By the time I revised the book in 2005 I had to add an entire chapter on Internet Gambling. Such is our dubious progress.

Here're a few more thoughts on this most postmodern, i.e., irrational, pursuit:

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

The State of Michigan is home to 3 casinos in Detroit owned by corporate interests and 22 tribal-owned casinos. You’d think this would be enough.

But no. Now two competing groups are working to put casino-approval measures on the fall ballot that, if passed, would permit one gambling proponent to add 8 new casinos and the other to add 7 new casinos.

You heard that right. In a state with 25 casinos these groups think we need 7-8 more.

The groups are euphemistically named Citizens for More Michigan Jobs and Michigan Is Yours. Makes you want to sprint to the polling booth doesn’t it? Pro-gambling groups never name themselves More Casinos For More Debt or Gamble Till Your Money’s Gone. No, they’re about “more jobs.” Sure they are.

And the same old tired arguments are being trotted out in support of more casinos, e.g., that these establishments will be taxed at high levels and the money will go for—public schools, police and fire services, townships, road repair, and my favorite, gambling-addiction prevention programs. (The best gambling-addiction prevention program is not to gamble.)

In other words, casino proponents argue that new casinos will provide more money for a host of social services people like, want, or need. Makes political sense: who’s against schools?

But the problem is, this is a bait and switch. Sure, this tax revenue may be earmarked for education and such, but it doesn’t mean education and such gets more money, which is what the public thinks. It means that these funds will go for education and such and then the Legislature will redirect elsewhere tax revenues that would have gone to education and such. In the end, education and such doesn’t necessarily, in fact usually does not at all, end up with more funds. They just end up with other funds, and the public is duped into a new “painless” (for politicians) tax.

Casinos don’t produce anything. They don’t add to the local economy in any way. In fact, casinos drain money from legitimate businesses in the local economy. And, while you cannot make a good case that gambling causes negative social and economic pathologies, you certainly can make a credible case that gambling is correlated with negative social and economic pathologies. These developments—e.g., debt and bankruptcy, job absenteeism, suicide, divorce, theft, health issues—cost local economies. The pubic ends up paying more in increases in health care premiums and increases in criminal justice costs.

It’s said, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” Casinos offer fools gold to attract fools. Michigan doesn’t need more of either one. Gambling is a bad bet; don't bet on it.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.