Has Sports Betting Gained too much Momentum to be Stopped? (Part 4)

Posted: May 13, 2015

Updated: May 13, 2015

A comparison between gambling culture in Great Britain and the U.S

The history of gambling in correlation to the US gambling laws has finally come to a crossroads where we may see the expansion of legalized sports betting. Sports betting is technically illegal in the U.S, but its enforcement is prejudicial at best. Every year millions of Americans bet on the National College Athletic Association basketball tournament or what has been called “March Madness” with a “devil may care” attitude.

• Americans bet yearly on the NCAA basketball without any regard for the law.
• In 1961 Britain legalized sports betting and the U.S illegalized it via the Wire Act.
• The UK looks for abnormal betting patterns in their regulation of sports betting.

Wagering on the Super Bowl or the National Football League championship is culturally accepted. These exceptions involve more prominent betting between friend, workmates and family and not through established third party gambling conduits such as booking establishments. The trouble tends to brew when scandals force legalized pressure which is why British gambling hasn’t been heavily tampered with by Parliament reform.

The British parliament and U.S congress take different paths

The British Parliament has made it common practice to in get involved in gambling legislation. In the 1930’s, professional football leagues in Britain made a push to ban football based lotteries. This was met with indifference by Parliament and the football leagues were denied their wish. Nowadays though, British sports leagues view gambling as more symbiotic and less parasitic.

Well known in US gambling news was the passing of the “Wire Act” in 1961 which prohibited sending information across state lines. This law would reduce specific information about betting wages or match fixing information to be placed in one location and counted and organized in another. Originally the act was designed as a weapon for U.S Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s fight with the mafia.

Coincidentally, British Parliament had pushed their own for gambling legislation in 1961. This was in the form of legalizing betting parlors which resulted in the first betting parlors opening in the same year. As a result, Brits saw gambling venues on every corner. That movement could easily be compared to what is occurring in the U.S today.

Track Betting

Unlike Britain in the 1960’s, America still had a strong undercurrent of Christian fundamentalism in its culture. As religious influences have taken a backseat to a desire for revenue, U.S officials are understanding the benefits of sports betting regulation that the Brits have already predicted. Hence, there has been a lack of major match-fixing scandal in British Sports news.

UK gambling regulation a possible model for the US

The UK actively looks for abnormal betting patterns through their regulation of sports betting. Thus allowing sports betting has given the government the ability to get close enough to gambling to look at through “a fine-toothed comb” rather than a telescope like US officials. Such activity does tend to make UK gambling news rather mundane, but a more stable industry.

US official have taken steps to imitate the same actions with positive results. Twenty years ago, more than USD 1 million was flooding into an Arizona State basketball game. Noticing that such a game normally brings in USD 50,000 in gambling activity, Vegas bookmakers contacted the FBI which led to the discovery of a point shaving scandal involving players from Arizona State, a campus bookmaker and gamblers from Chicago.

The Donaghy case was considered the worst gambling scandal in the history of the National Basketball Association. Referee Tim Donaghy actively bet on games that he officiated. In addition, he provided information on these games to other gamblers. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said “None of the systems we had in place had captured any betting by Donaghy.”

Soon New Jersey governor Chris Christie will strive for a final push for sport betting by attempting to question its “constitutionality.” In Philadelphia, three federal appeals judges heard more oral argument supporting New Jersey’s push to repeal federal sports betting laws. The decision, which will be announced in May or June, will reverberate throughout the gambling community with other states.

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