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Thanks, Rex, for a great blog. Thanks in particular for your leadership on the subject of gambling's folly. Consumer Reports just posted something interesting and related on one of their blogs:

March Madness is a basketball fan’s fantasy: 68 of the best intercollegiate teams battling for supremacy. What more could a fan want?

Apparently for some it’s a chance to win money by gambling on the games. Sports betting is now a $100 billion per year “business,” and it’s getting bigger. March Madness offers the perfect opportunity, game after game, points and point spreads, quick results—some $12 billion bet in a matter of three weeks. It’s a multiple betting paradise, except for one thing: it’s mostly illegal, due to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992.

Meanwhile, casinos offering legalized sports betting take in about $30 billion per year. But there’s pressure from legislatures and much of the public to legalize sports betting and tap its revenues for public coffers.

The problem, though, is that sports betting represents a significant threat to the integrity of sport. Reason being is that it’s not difficult to imagine people approaching players, coaches, and officials with monetary incentives to throw games. Think the 1919 Chicago “Black Sox” World Series scandal, Pete Rose accused of betting on games while managing the Cincinnati Reds, and most recently in 2007, NBA referee Tim Donaghy serving time for betting on games he officiated. Intercollegiate sports associations the NCAA and NAIA both oppose legalized sports betting, as do all the professional leagues, NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, etc.

Yet sports betting via local, noncommercial office bracket “pools” is increasing geometrically. College students are particularly susceptible, and golfers of all ages are by far the most inclined to gamble. With more than 2,000 gambling websites available and smart phone mobile gambling apps around the corner, gambling is a now pervasive opportunity of postmodern life.

Gambling seems harmless, a victimless crime if crime at all. But gambling’s history is replete with emotionally devastated individuals and bankrupt families. Sports betting is no different.

Because of its penchant for luring cheaters, legalized sports betting would do little but destroy the competitive purity of athletics. Eventually, sports betting would ruin the fun and fandom that makes athletics so enjoyable in the first place. Given that sports is already beset by drug challenges, legislators and the general public would do well to look for revenues somewhere other than sports.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*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 or follow him at


Grand Rapids was recently added to a list of cities targeted for casino development by a group wanting to put seven more privately held casinos in Michigan. Never mind that this would push Michigan’s total number of casinos to over thirty. Never mind that casinos have brought little but aggravation, traffic, social problems, and bankruptcies to almost every area in which they’ve been located.

Now Michigan Is Yours, the casino backers, need 320,000 signatures by July 7 to make a statewide ballot this November. It’s too early to project whether the group will be successful, but it doesn’t help that Grand Rapids’s otherwise good and decent Mayor George Heartwell has endorsed the idea for a casino in his city. He says he’s not a fan of casinos but believes Grand Rapids may have to develop one “from a defensive posture” because of all the other casinos in the state. Huh? Not a very compelling argument.

Now Michigan Is Yours consultants cited support for a casino’s economic development potential by University of Las Vegas Nevada professor Bill Thompson. Taking nothing away from Thompson’s credentials, his affirmation is nevertheless laughable because he hopes to work as a consultant for the Now Michigan Is Yours campaign. So of course he endorses the idea.

Unless they are located in an already attractive tourist or high traffic destination, casinos never bring to town what proponents claim they will: jobs, positive economic spinoffs, tourism. Casinos do bring to town negative impact upon local economies (Think about it: if tourists are not a casino’s primary patrons than locals are; the money casinos glean comes directly out of local families' and businesses' pockets), increased social pathologies (casinos and gambling don’t cause but certainly contribute to job absenteeism, debt, bankruptcies, divorce, and suicide), and decreases in land values near casinos.

For the past twenty years, casinos specifically and gambling generally have been looked upon by political leaders as potential pots of gold for local and state governments. But it’s rarely worked out that way. The problems gambling introduces to a community eventually far outstrip any potential benefits.

Grand Rapids would be ill-advised to introduce a casino to its economy. In addition to the economic problems noted, casinos contribute to a “seedier” atmosphere and general decrease in a locality's perceived reputation. Casinos are a losing bet.

CasiNo in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*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 or follow him at


Congressional Democrats, led by Rep. Barney Frank (MA) and encouraged by Senate Majority Leader Harry M Reid (NV), are attempting to sneak through a bill legalizing online gambling. The bill, an amendment to a larger tax relief bill, would make online gambling revenues taxable, which is the ultimate interest of online gambling proponents.

Interestingly, they’re doing this despite repeated national polls that suggest some 67% of the American public oppose the legalization of online gambling. This lame duck move is, one would hope, doomed to failure.

Increased legalized gambling means increased indebtedness, bankruptcies, and addictiveness. In every culture the social cost of increased gambling always outpaces any increase in revenues that may land in public coffers. Consequently, while many solid moral arguments can be marshaled against gambling one of the best arguments against it is practical economics—gambling doesn’t work financially. No one wins but the gambling operation.

Legalization of online gambling has been a perennial goal of the gambling industry since the earliest days of the Internet. But so far, Congress has had enough concerns not to take the plunge.

If this new bill passed it would overturn the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. This legislation bans online gambling and makes it illegal for credit companies to process online gambling funds.

Still, and here’s the irony, since the Internet is the “worldwide” web and not a “national” or “domestic” web, people in the U.S. can and do regularly gamble online—as many as 7 million log on monthly to poker sites alone. They do this by accessing offshore sites. Liberals in Congress don’t like this because all they can see are potential-but-unreachable tax revenues.

Liberals, including Forbes magazine, love to argue four things:

--governments should not restrict gambling because it’s an adult decision,

-more gambling yields more jobs

-more gambling means more tax revenues,

-more gambling is good for economic growth.


Yet none of these arguments have been borne out historically. Gambling was, is, and always will be bad economics, bad policy, and bad politics. It’s a time bomb in a pretty package, a snake in the grass that’s waiting to bite. Barney Frank’s bill is a bad bet.



© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010


*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at


Sports wagering is the primary entry point to more gambling among adolescents and college students.

Dr. Durand Jacobs, a pioneer in treating problem gambling, believes “there’s not a high school in the country where kids are not making book on sports events.” Arne Wexler, a New Jersey anti-gambling expert, noted that “for every college kid who derives nothing but entertainment from his betting, there is another who cons his parents to get money to cover his gambling losses, another who becomes so consumed with betting that he tosses away an education and another who plunges into gambling addiction. It is far from harmless recreation.”

Jeff Pash, executive vice president of the NFL, told a congressional committee that “Sports gambling breeds corruption and undermines the values our games represent. We do not want our games or our players used as gambling bait…College students…have for a decade been the fastest growing segment of the gambling population even without the help of the Internet.”

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the fastest growing addiction among high school and college age young people is problem gambling with as much as 7 percent or 1.3 million teens addicted to gambling. Durand Jacobs believes the rate of problem gambling among teens is at least 15 percent. Teens are nearly two and one-half times as likely to become compulsive gamblers as adults. Suicide rates are twice as high among teenagers with gambling problems.

Sports wagering is a major threat to the integrity of athletic competition. It’s what one experienced gambler called “seasonal losing.” Sports wagering is a more than $200 billion business in the United States with the NFL Super Bowl the biggest betting day of the year. Some 25% of Americans say they bet on at least one sports event each year, and Nevada’s 142 sports books, source of the famous “point spread” or “Las Vegas line,” take in over $2 billion per year.

The NCAA’s “March Madness,” a month long intercollegiate basketball tournament, is now in the running to displace the Super Bowl as America’s number one sports wagering venue. Betting interest of fans, coaches, assistants, referees, and players change the dynamic of the game, introducing the very real potential for greed and corruption. The NCAA has strongly positioned itself against all forms of sports wagering because it threatens the well-being of student athletes and the fair play of intercollegiate athletic competition.

I am currently serving as the chairman of a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Council of Presidents Task Force on Sports Wagering that is currently developing a sports wagering policy recommendation for the NAIA. The focus of the recommendation will be to protect the well-being of student-athletes, to protect the integrity of competitive sports, and to protect the mission of the NAIA as an organization committed to developing “Champions of Character.”

Sports wagering not only threatens the social health of those who participate in it, sports wagering can also be a direct hit on the very idea of competitive athletics and fair play. If athletes, coaches, or referees are influenced by their gambling interests or the pressures of others involved in betting large sums on the outcome of athletic events, they may be induced to throw the game. Point shaving, “taking a fall” in a boxing ring, swinging wildly or dropping the ball in baseball games, intentionally shooting offline on the basketball court, the opportunities to cheat for a dishonest athlete are endless. If this happens, competitive sports based on talented athletes, skilled execution, and “heart”—all the things that make people love sports—disappear. All that’s left is some form of schlock entertainment like televised professional wrestling.

Gambling is not a sport, but youth often think that it is. It’s a “game” that can such youth into the ABC’s of gambling: addiction, bankruptcy, crime and corruption. Youth don’t always know that you can’t serve God and money, and adults are not doing much to teach them.

Sports wagering is a growing youth problem and therefore a growing national problem.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is taking the threat of sports wagering seriously. Believing that all forms of cheating via sports wagering undermines fair competition and debilitates individuals involved, the NAIA Council of Presidents has established a task force on sports wagering.

I am privileged to serve as the chairman of the 2005-2006 NAIA Council of Presidents Sports Wagering Task Force, along with Dr. Rosemarie Nassif of Holy Name University (CA), Dr. Thomas J. Trebon of Carroll College (MT), Dr. Ted Brown of Martin Methodist College (TN), Dr. Doug Hodo of Houston Baptist University (TX), Dr. Don Jeanes of Milligan College (TN), and Mr. Kevin Dee of the NAIA. The task force is developing sports wagering policy recommendations for the NAIA that focus upon athletics staff members and student-athletes of NAIA member institutions. The purpose of the recommendations will be to protect the well-being of student-athletes, to protect the integrity of competitive sports, and to protect the mission of the NAIA as an organization committed to developing “Champions of Character.”

NAIA’s “Champions of Character” program emphasizes Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Servant Leadership, and Sportsmanship. It is the only program of its kind on the intercollegiate level in the country, and it serves as a direct response to the continued decline of the culture of sport in America. Via “Champions of Character,” the NAIA reinforces not only athletic participation but also education for life.

Youth begin gambling at ever younger ages—now averaging about 12 years of age. Typically, sports provide the context of initial youth gambling experiences. It may seem like harmless entertainment to youth, but it is not. Youth also typically begin gambling because an adult opens the door for them. This is a sad story but one that we can change. I encourage you to check with your favorite college or university athletic department to learn what it may be doing to further honest competition and healthy student-athletes by prohibiting sports wagering on intercollegiate athletics.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at