Sports Betting and Online Gambling: Coming To a State Near You?

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 In U.S., Nevada offers traditional sportsbooks. NFL bets amount to 40% of sports bets. Photo: Ashtynn Renee-Flickr
 

The United States is considered the land of possibilities - but not for some businesses. Namely, sports betting and online gambling have been the pariahs of the country for years. Sports betting was outlawed in the 1990s by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, and online casinos and poker rooms were expelled from the US by the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. But both of these businesses are set to slowly return to the US. Online poker rooms have appeared in Delaware and Nevada, and online casinos have returned to New Jersey in the last couple of years. While this doesn't allow locals to try the best Canadian casino games at Red Flush online they have a local - and legal - alternative to clandestine offshore venues. And sports betting, online or otherwise, might "suffer" the same fate in the coming years.

Betting on the money: One of the reasons why regulated betting and gambling is a good idea is money. Online casinos are a potential cash cow for the states - New Jersey's online casinos have contributed by at least $100 million to the state's budget since 2013 - while betting can be beneficial for more of the involved parties. On one hand, its contribution to the budget is undeniable. On the other, the leagues and the teams themselves can also take a fair share of the revenue.

A report published by MoffettNathanson Research earlier this year states that without sports betting, the NFL misses out on the opportunity not only to generate more direct revenue but also the one of sparking the interest of larger masses of fans in the sport. This would boost the viewership of the matches at the leading sports networks, which would lead to more ad revenue in the long run.

The report states that legalizing sports betting may have the potential to determine up to 10% of those who don't bet to try it, which would at the same time lead to these people spend more time following matches on TV.

How about integrity?: Does anyone question the integrity of the world of sports in Europe?

By the logic of the PASPA, all sports in Europe should be corrupt, as it is home to some of the biggest sports betting companies in the world. But these companies are all heavily regulated by the strict laws of the European Union. Besides, their interest is in the sports being sound, so they will go to lengths to maintain its integrity. Some of the biggest betting companies have joined forces to create ESSA, a not for profit organization that provides an early warning system with the specific aim of detecting and deterring the corruption of ESSA members’ betting markets through the manipulation of sporting events.

On the other hand, the American Gaming Association estimates that out of the $4.7 billion of bets placed on the 51st Superbowl, around $4.5 billion were placed illegally - that's about 97%. The AGA has also estimated that Americans have bet $154 billion on all sports in 2016, all of it on the illegal betting market. "A regulated marketplace would generate tax revenue and jobs, protect consumers and leverage cutting-edge technology to strengthen the integrity of the games we all love," Geoff Freeman, president, and CEO of the AGA said.

There are many pro-betting arguments out there - now it's up to the legislators to lift a federal ban that's been in effect for 25 years.

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