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It Is Inevitable for the US to Legalize Sports Betting (Part II)

Adam Silver at press conference

The U.S. might have the key to save the credibility of international sport with legalizing sports betting.

To evade the match-fixing problems that have been caused a huge problem for European soccer, experts advising the United States to regulate betting


• US need to legalize
• A large legal market is vital
• US have to watch abroad

on sports and to prepare for threats coming from overseas countries. Though US betting scandals in the last twenty years were virtually limited to basketball, the NBA is the only major league that pushes for legalized sports betting at the moment. More and more politicians are thinking about to do so to protect gamblers and to protect the sports, but the NFL and the NCAA oppose any ease in US gambling laws at the moment.

NBA is the only major league backing legalization

Adam Sliver, the commissioner of the National Basketball Association is leading the organization’s efforts to legalize betting on sports in the United States, for the sake of protecting the integrity of the game. Franchises like the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings, Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards are also backing the introduction of regulated sports betting.

The Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League expressed that they are planning to review the problem, while the National Football League and the NCAA still resist any change regarding bet on sports in the US. NCAA recently made a statement, saying “[The Organization] opposes all forms of gambling – legal and illegal – on college sports. The spread of legalized sports wagering is a threat to student-athlete well-being and the integrity of athletic competition.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stated in April that the league’s opinion did not change on the matter; however they might accept any changes coming from above. He said, “We think the integrity of the game is the most important thing, and we believe that our current position is the right way to be able to handle that. But, on the other hand, if changes happen, we’ll be prepared for those.”

Everyone must be involved

KÉP NEVE
Reportedly 85% of sports betting is made in unregulated markets worldwide, and regarding the United States that figure is over 97%. Nevada registered a record bets worth of USD 3.9 billion in 2014, but the majority of the money risked on sporting events are wagered in an unregulated milieu. However, even if the leaders of the country want to skim off that revenue, it is not that easy to introduce legalization at once.

Sports leagues and the government must act together, and they have to ensure that licensed land-based and online sportsbooks in the US will offer the best odds for punters, to avert the black market taking an advantage on them providing higher odds. This will decrease the revenues obviously, but by involving the betting companies, everyone’s interest would be to keep the sports and the market clean. An Australian attorney, Jake Williams, who worked for the CONCACAF, the North and Central American football association, argued that a large and legal market in the US is vital to protect the sports.

“The government wants tax revenue,” said Williams. “The leagues need to focus on fan engagement and not tax bookmakers. If they focus on fan engagement, they will see huge ancillary benefits like sponsorship, much higher TV broadcast rights and so on. Casual bettors need access to legal online betting, and pro bettors and syndicates need large and liquid legal markets. If they aren’t available, they will look to offshore and other liquid markets. And bookmakers need a fair tax model that allows for a solid business.”

The potential market in the US is so huge that keeping everyone interested looks easy. However there is a concern that a large-scale legalized betting market operating in the US would make bettors and fans suspicious and cynic. According to experts, the US has to legalize sports betting first, and then launch a global attack against illegal bookmakers. Due to the low costs, illegal online operators will always have advantages over regulated bookmakers, and their advance damaged soccer in Europe vastly.

The United States have to concentrate on the problem that unregulated online sportsbooks will possibly tempt many American players with their offers. The European Union thought that regulating its sports betting will protect the integrity of the games, however the attack came from abroad. The US has to avoid making the same mistake to protect the credibility of international sport.

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