Legal Betting in the US: Could This Be The Time?


Some baseball fans today might feel like back when

Babe Ruth, one of Royal Vegas’s top sportsmen of all time was on the playfield. His active years fell mostly within the US’ Prohibition Era when gambling as a whole was illegal (which didn’t stop the underground from making fortunes using it). Today, the situation is similar – at least when it comes to sports betting. Today, in turn, it’s not Protestant values but the integrity of sports that has prompted the federal government to issue an almost complete ban on betting on sports. The PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992) has pushed sports betting out of legality, leaving only a few carve outs for a few states (Oregon, Nevada, Delaware, and Montana).

For years, the stance of America’s major sports leagues was clearly against betting. But now times seem to be changing, thanks in part to the numerous challenges to the PASPA (some senators and governors consider it unconstitutional because it denies states the right to decide on such a matter for themselves). Their reasons are multiple but most of the times have to do with the fact that regulated sports betting could really boost the tax income of the states. But sports leagues that had a clear and adamant anti-betting stance also seem to change their hearts.

Former MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent was among those who opposed the reinstatement of Pete Rose and also testified in support of the above-mentioned PASPA. “In those days, we were very adamant against betting, because we had just been dealt and were dealing with the Pete Rose case,” Vincent, now 79, told The Bleacher Report this August. “We saw the risks and the danger of corruption, and we saw that the mafia was involved in some of the things we investigated. It’s dangerous, and it’s still dangerous. But I think the American public wants to bet, and it’s already betting.”

Underground bookmakers and offshore internet betting outlets are available to the American public, even though their services are illegal. Although there were several attempts to crack down on such operations, enough of them still remain for those who really want to bet to be able to do so. And they do so out of the reach of the authorities – which means that their money leaves the US, never to return.

If sports betting was regulated, the situation would probably be similar to the European one. There, major betting groups are not only making money on the back of sports but pouring a lot of money back into them through sponsorship, among others. The integrity of sports is safeguarded not only by the leagues and international organizations but by the betting operators themselves – industry bodies like the ESSA continuously keep an eye on irregular betting patterns to discover not only money laundering but potential match fixing, too, and report them to the authorities.

Legal sports betting would benefit not only the leagues of the United States but the sports media, too. A recent report has shown that legal sports betting would boost the viewership of sports TV channels like ESPN, and implicitly, the ad revenues of the leagues themselves.

“I don’t know how the feds or the states are going to act, but the money will come to the leagues one way or another,” Vincent said, cited by the Bleacher Report. “It will go to the teams. The unions are going to want a cut of it. The amount of money is going to mean enormous increases in players’ compensation, and officials, too; I mean the entire sporting world is going to benefit enormously.”

An ever-increasing number of voices speak of a potential lifting of the federal ban on sports betting. Numerous states have their betting laws ready, waiting for the federal government to allow it. Could this be the time when legal betting returns to the US?

Posted on October 24, 2017, in The Rest: Everything Baseball. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Legal Betting in the US: Could This Be The Time?.

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