Betting on professional sports became legalized in 2018, and since then 27 states have legalized online sports betting and 33 have legalized in-person sports betting with other states voting on it soon. Even with it being legal in just over 50% of US states, it still had a projected revenue of $7.62 billion in 2023 with a projected growth rate of 17.33% over the next four years, projecting $14.44 billion by 2027. Overall, I think sports betting will have a positive impact on sports and on people because it makes it more fun or more painful to watch (depending on if you hit your bets). 

As someone who does bet on sports using Fanduel, it is very fun when you win and Fanduel is always offering some sort of promotion to keep you betting. Sports betting should be legalized across the U.S. simply because you should be able to use your money how you see fit. If they can draft me into the Army at 18, why can’t I place a wager on the Giants winning the Super Bowl? It’s going to hit eventually.

Some of the cons with sports betting come with concerns that the companies exploit vulnerable individuals and feed off their addictions. While possibly unethical, it is not illegal as can be seen with the legality of selling cigarettes and alcohol. Fueling the concerns are the constant advertising and incentives to sign up making it easier and more enticing to begin betting. Once betting starts, it can be difficult to stop for many. 

In addition to the advertising, the thousands of different bets that can be made on the game between any combination of parlays, anytime scorers, overs, unders, spreads, moneylines, alternate spreads, alternate yardage or point totals, including live bets. All of this, in turn, fuels addictions because you always feel like there’s another chance to make your money back. The government has not helped those with gambling problems as well as, according to CNN, there are no federal funds designated for problems with gambling or research for it, while there are such funds for tobacco, drug and alcohol problems. 

While all of these are valid complaints about sports betting as a whole, there are some solutions to it with some government funding and possible betting limits on the apps. While most agree that it should be legalized, the more interesting and impactful debate comes when discussing the regulation of betting, and if it is ethical to have leagues partnering with and being sponsored by betting companies. According to a study by Seton Hall University, over 50% of the United States believes that sports betting should be legalized. 

In short, I don’t think so. The leagues should not be able to be sponsored by these companies because it creates a conflict of interest. When the two partner together, it will lead to the leagues wanting the companies to succeed and wanting more people to bet because it will lead to more people watching the sport. Players cannot bet or be sponsored by sportsbooks, but the league can. 

NFL players are not allowed to bet on other sports when they are in their teams facility without getting six-plus week suspensions, but the multi-billion dollar machine that is the NFL is allowed to have a partnership with DraftKings, Fanduel and Caesar’s. The NFL is telling the players that it is okay when DraftKings or Fanduel pay the league, but it is not okay when the sportsbooks pay the players. This is yet another way the NFL and its owners are managing to profit off the players without allowing the players to see that money. However, leagues such as the MLB and NHL allow their players to have sponsorships with sportsbooks which may still be unethical but is more ethical than the league being sponsored by them. That just doesn’t make sense to me and it seems like just another way for the massive companies to profit off people just trying to enjoy the sport. Especially in sports like the NFL, NBA and MLB where officials can very easily decide games with horrible calls, it is pretty easy to connect the dots as to how the leagues could cheat to benefit their sponsors.

In an NFL game, if 60% or more of the money is on an underdog’s money line, and the sportsbook could lose a significant amount of money if the underdog wins, there is a possibility they could have some influence on some flags thrown late in the game. In my eyes, the main concern with sportsbooks is the effect on the integrity of the game. Every time there is a blown call at the end of the game, which occurs all too often (make the refs full-time employees and hold them accountable), but, again, that’s a conversation for a different day. The question will be asked if the sportsbooks needed the game to end the way it did. 

Lastly, the impact that the constant advertising for the sportsbook has on kids and young teens is concerning and will likely breed more addicts. Having kids from the day they start watching football to when they can legally bet seeing constant sports betting ads will just breed more and more bettors, which could fuel an addiction. This would be difficult to stop though, as they will always be able to advertise, just like alcohol can advertise, but finding a way to limit the advertisements and not having them sponsor the leagues could lower exposure to the sportsbooks for children and teens.

It is pretty clear why the major leagues want to have the sportsbooks sponsor them and now support sports betting, it’s for money at the end of the day all the leagues and sportsbooks want is to make money first, then grow the sport and provide a good product. This is likely why NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stated in 2015 that the NFL has been “very open about our position that we oppose legalized sports gambling. We haven’t changed our position on that, and I don’t anticipate us changing that going forward at all. We think the integrity of the game is the most important thing.” 

Then after announcing their sportsbook partners, the NFL Chief Revenue Officer and Executive Vice President of NFL Partnerships Renie Anderson stated that, “As the sports betting landscape has continued to evolve in the United States, we have been thoughtful with our strategy and are excited to announce three partners who share the NFL’s vision and goals. Working closely with Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel, we will provide fans [with] new and different ways of interacting and engaging with the sport they love.” 

The NFL clearly completely changed its opinion on sports betting and the legalization of it over the past decade. This begs the question, what changed? Goodell clearly stated in 2015 that the legalization of sports betting could lead to the integrity of the game being at risk, so why is that no longer the most important thing to him? The answer is pretty clear and that is that once it was legalized, the NFL saw the opportunity to deepen their pockets and took full advantage of it. 

The integrity of the game falls second to profit in the eyes of Goodell and the NFL’s owners. Overall, it is pretty clear that the major sports leagues abandoned their desire to keep the integrity of the game in order to profit from the massive sportsbook industry and increase fan interaction and viewership. There should be some sort of regulation to eliminate this and get rid of the conflict of interest it creates by not allowing sportsbooks to sponsor professional players, teams or leagues.

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-- Junior | Head Sports Editor | Business & Management --

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