America has a storied past of putting sports teams, players and communities on a social pedestal. Sports have become intertwined with the moral and cultural values of American citizens, encouraging the people who watch them to uphold ethical codes at home and refrain from perceived sketchy activities like gambling.
Sports gambling is too popular and lucrative to remain illegal in the majority of the United States for much longer. If it were legalized in all states, the government could potentially create more efficient regulation in the industry and help prevent match fixing with the help of advanced monitoring technology.
Gambling on sports is currently only legal in Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon. In 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act passed and made sports-related gambling illegal in America, but in 2017, polls have shown a growing support for this type of gambling.
When the law went into effect, support for the anti-gambling bill sat at 56 percent, according to a 1993 Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll. Fifty-five percent of Americans were for the legalization of sports gambling, according to a 2017 poll conducted by the Washington Post.
One of the biggest benefits of legalizing sports gambling is that it has the potential to bring in more revenue that the government could potentially use. Underground sports gambling is a huge industry in the U.S. with an estimated value of $150 billion to $400 billion, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican. People want to be able to bet on their favorite team, so by legalizing sport betting the government could be able use it.
For other countries like Britain, where Parliament passed legislation in 1961 to legalize sports gambling, the government has been able to monitor bets better than it had when it was illegal. By working closely with sports leagues and looking at gambling activity, the British government developed a highly regulated system to monitor suspicious behavior.
Britain has the blueprint for successfully instituting gambling into mainstream sports culture. If America were to follow it, the government could effectively enforce a system making sports gambling legal, while also minimizing the risk of game fixing.
One company that uses technology in the sports gambling industry to ensure safety and fairness is Genius Sports, formed after the two tech companies, SportingPulse and Betgenius, merged.
Genius Sports is a company that provides data for sports, media and sports gambling. Genius Sports’ partnerships with La Liga and English Premier League demonstrate its value in monitoring and providing data on sports gambling to prevent betting corruption.
Major League Baseball is also a client to Genius Sports and has used some of its services to manage the integrity of its sports. If Genius Sports’ services were used to help the MLB to monitor match fixing, then surely it’s evident sports can avoid betting corruption.
MLB’s partnership is important to note as the league has historically been embroiled in notorious gambling scandals like the Black Sox and Pete Rose scandal. MLB’s decision to partner with Genius Sports suggests that if there is a means to protect the integrity of a sport then sports, gambling no longer needs to be illegal.
With greater public support and Britain’s 50-year head start as a good model, the legalization of sports gambling is the next logical step for American sports as a whole.