An estimated $90 billion is likely to be bet on NFL and NCAA football games through the 2016-2017 season—yet only $2 billion is likely to be done so legally. This discrepancy is just a testament to the failure of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), a federal statute that outlawed sports gambling in the United States. Four states—Nevada, Oregon, Delaware, and Montana—could actually avoid this prohibition as a result of exemptions in PASPA that allowed states that had already legalized sports betting to keep to do so after PASPA was passed (although only Nevada allows traditional single-game betting). These exemptions have created a confounding legal landscape in which state (Nevada) has a de facto monopoly on the multi-billion dollar sports betting industry.
Putting aside for the minute the constitutional issues implicated by PASPA’s enactment, PASPA is also simply bad policy. However well-intentioned the bill’s sponsors may have been, it’s clear that PASPA has failed to accomplish its three primary goals: (1) stopping the spread of state-sponsored sports gambling, (2) maintaining sports’integrity, and (3) reducing the promotion of sports gambling among America’s youth. In fact, PASPA could have created more harm than good.
PASPA has not prevented sports gambling—it has simply diverted otherwise taxable state revenue to underground bookmakers and offshore sports betting websites. In a New York Times article published November 2014, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver stated that “despite legal restrictions, sports betting is widespread. It is just a thriving underground business that operates clear of regulation or oversight 亚博体育官网.” Silver continued to recommend what many lawmakers and even initial proponents of PASPA have come to appreciate that “sports betting should really be brought out from the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated.”
Possibly the most cited argument against the legalization of sports gambling is so it “compromises the integrity of the sport.” Notwithstanding the fact that match-fixing has continued to happen while PASPA has been around effect, this argument overlooks the fact that a managed legal sports gambling industry would make match-fixing less likely to occur than under the current PASPA regime. The reason being it’s well known that match-fixing is primarily conducted by illegal bookmaking operations and organized crime syndicates that will continue to persist whether sports gambling is legal, while the people who is likely to be most suffering from the legalization of sports betting (i.e. casual fans) are the ones who are least likely and least able to try and fix a match. To get this assertion, Stefan Szymanski, an economist at the University of Michigan and a professional on sports and corruption, has stated that “legalizing [sports gambling] would actually help crack down on cheating….[L]egal bookmakers susceptible to government regulation have a powerful reason to help keep sports honest, because nothing scares away customers faster compared to the suspicion a game is rigged.”
Another major concern of PASPA’s sponsors was that legalized sports gambling would corrupt America’s youth. The problem with this particular argument is that sports gambling is becoming an inescapable section of American culture, such as the proliferation of easily-accessible and unregulated online sportsbooks, around-the-clock daily fantasy sports commercials, and increased televised discussion of Las Vegas point spreads, it’s clear that PASPA can’t claim (if it ever could) to protect America’s youth from participating in sports gambling. To put it simply, PASPA isn’t a powerful type of legislation in the Information Age, the place where a sports bet may be placed quickly, easily, and anonymously by the click of a button. This argument is comparable to the equally unfounded moral panics surrounding comic books in the 1950s and marijuana in the 1930s, which played on America’s fears surrounding subjects that they knew very little about. To carry on to count on outdated arguments to guide this type of statute would be to ignore the realities of our current society, while depriving states the opportunity to reap the benefits of a multi-billion dollar industry.
When even the President of the United States admits to gambling on the Super Bowl, the validity and efficacy of PASPA must be called into question. It is not a reasonable goal to try to eradicate sports gambling from the United States—it is just a predominant section of American sports culture, and there’s no evidence to suggest that it is going anywhere anytime soon. The only real question is whether Congress chooses allowing illicit underground operations to keep to profit off this industry, or decides to create this roughly $400 billion industry “out from the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated.” At a time when many states are struggling financially and trying to find any opportunity to increase revenue, the country can’t afford to shun the sports gambling industry centered on unfounded and outdated principles. Whether the us government likes it or not, sports gambling is here now to stay—minimal Congress can perform is allow states to create a profit.