New Sports Betting Laws and the NFL

Kate Arhar
OTFB Browns Reporter


By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8

On Monday, a Supreme Court ruling opened the door for states to legalize sports betting. Up until now, Nevada was the only state where you could legally place a wager on sports events. While the ruling itself does not make sports gambling legal, it does move the regulating of these wagers back to being a state-level issue.

The basic thought behind the ruling goes back to the U. S. Constitution: anything not specifically designated as being under federal jurisdiction belongs to the states. Meaning – the federal government can regulate gambling but since it has so far chosen not to, states can now enact legislation to legalize sports gambling or repeal previous laws making it illegal.

This situation begs a ton of questions. Socially, financially and game integrity issues must be considered.

Socially, people are worried about gambling addicts. As someone who struggles with self-control in front of a slot machine, I can understand the concern. However, as someone who also has friends and family members who are addicts, they will find a way no matter what is legal. While this may offer gamblers more options to demonstrate their addiction, they already have a problem.

Financially, this opens up a ton of possible scenarios that are quite intriguing. Race tracks and casinos are the easy option to add sports betting. But could your local sports bar also be authorized to take wagers? Could you buy a lottery ticket at the grocery store and also drop $10 on the Browns to beat the Steelers week one?

I’m hopeful states will take a “lottery” approach and open a sports book at that level. It would give you a few different options for the profits that could be beneficial to most of the people living in that state. Revenue could be designated to go to schools, similar to how many states currently have their lottery set up.

How about a New Stadium fund? States may – Ohio included – use things called “sin taxes” to pay for stadium builds and renovations. What if the sports book money was used to fund these expenses? It seems to me that this way, the people who actually go to the stadiums and ball fields would be the ones paying for the upgrades and would be more fair.

In looking at teams who’ve left their cities for greener pastures, and brand new stadiums, this could help lead to more stability for fan bases.  The team owner could get assistance from the state through these gambling revenues and we could see far less movement to new cities.

And if you are an app designer, depending on how the states actually set up their legal format, you could be very busy. The internet is the perfect place for people who like the ease of using their phone to place a quick wager instead of having to drive to a bar, store or casino. Regulating this could be problematic, but it’ll start before the laws catch up to it.

I know concerns are being voiced regarding the integrity of the game. I, for one, took a hard stand on Pete Rose and would never allow him in the Baseball Hall of Fame. I don’t think anyone involved with a team should be betting on sports. Any sport. Any player, referee, coach, front office person, anyone. None.

I like to believe that, like with gambling addicts, the folks who are trying to fix games are already at it. And wide-spread legalization will only create a larger group to keep an eye on things, zoom in the focus to make it even harder to cheat because so much more will be riding on it.

Ultimately, if we can’t trust and believe that games are being played, coached and judged with honesty, then sports are doomed.


Talk football with Kate on Twitter // @ClvlndK8

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