Has Sports Betting Gained too much Momentum to be Stopped? (Part 1)

Posted: May 13, 2015

Updated: May 13, 2015

Adam Silver described legalizing sports wagering as “inevitable”.

Sports gambling was always been connected to sport. Gambling on an activity relates to the human need to identify with something or somebody greater than themselves. For generations, critics have maintained that involving money in games ruins the “purity” of the sport. What tends to elude most is the simple fact that sports wagering is part of the sport’s purity by definition.

• Sports wagering is not only part of sport, it’s a sport in and of itself.
• The PASP Act confined sports betting to Nevada and three other states.
• Arizona Senator John McCain wants U.S Congress to re-examine the federal ban.

Sports wagering is not only part of sport, it’s a sport in and of itself. Many people use wagers in order to become “a part of the action”. It’s one thing if a person watched Michael Jordan score 63 points against Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics, but it’s another to have won $250 from the game as well. The ultimate question is whether sports leagues can allow wagering and online sports betting in the USwith any regularity?

U.S law and the growth of America’s defiance of it

Over 20 years ago, the representatives of all major sports gathered together to state their case to a Senate subcommittee about the horrors of sports wagering. “We do not want our games to be used as bait to sell gambling. We have to make it clear to the athletes, the fans and the public, gambling is not a part of the sport, period.” These were the words of Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner of the National Football League.

Tagliabue’s words, as well as others, had an effect and resulted in the passing of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in the following year. The Act confined sports betting to Nevada and three other states. Now the monopoly held by those states may be threatened as other states are vying to have their cases heard for expanded gambling legalization.

Newly appointed National Basketball Association (NBA) Commissioner Adam Silver, called for the 1992 PASP Act to be repealed, plus to expand sports betting. His viewpoints expressed in his interview with ESPN, have cause ripples in US gambling news. Silver’s only fear is that many states, after legalization, may create their own conduits and conditions which may hinder regulation further.

Silver’s call to action motivated others to move forward. Former NBA Commissioner David Stern, who was present at the petition leading to the PASP Act, has openly expressed his support of Silver. “I think it was clear where we were heading. The course was set. But it was left for Adam to make direct statement of where it was going, and I think he did the right thing and I am very supportive of that.”

The stage for sports history has been set

McCain and McCarthy

Arizona Senator John McCain wants U.S Congress to re-examine the federal ban. If a proper argument can be presented in which gambling revenue from sports can be taxed, then Federal support can be guaranteed. Chris Christie has been fighting to bring legal sports betting to his state of New Jersey. New Jersey never recovered from the last recession and its casino’s, the major source of revenue for the state, is crippled.

This spring, Christie may get his wish when an appeals court will hear New Jersey’s challenge to the “constitutionality” of the PASP act. This has resulted in other state officials considering the same course. Other states may for the first time in decades witness positive financial growth made well within the confines of amended US gambling laws.

With the growth of state lotteries and casinos, America’s stance on gambling isn’t as clearly defined as long ago. Only game-fixing scandals tend to be the only thread that professional and college sports leagues can hold on to. With Commissioners such as Silver stating that regulation could better prevent game-fixing, that thread is getting shorter every minute.

The U.S policies on sports betting present an irony seen in U.S politics. In the case of sports gambling, the U.S has similar stances to countries that traditionally have been seen as detrimental to the American lifestyle. The anti-communist or red scares from “McCarthyism” seem “foolish” when we look at the fact that the U.S lifestyle is more on a par with Russia and China than with their more progressive European neighbors.

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