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Sports Betting a $26B Industry. Are the Games Safe from Influence?

The Atlantic September 24, 2021|IDEAS|”Sports Gambling Is a Disaster Waiting to Happen” “Betting on Tom Brady’s next completion may sound like harmless fun. But it’s not.” By Will Leitch



Sofi Stadium 22AUG2021 pre-season 49ers vs Chargers


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Major League Rule 21(d) “says that any player, umpire, or employee of a team or the league who bets on a game they’re not involved in will be banned from MLB for a year; if they are involved in the game, the ban is for life. Yet paradoxically throughout these ballparks and those of the NFL, NBA, WNBA, NHL and even in some colleges but not high schools there are promotions for DraftKings, BetMGM, FanDuel et al. All this facilitated when the Supreme Court “struck down a federal ban on sports betting in 2018” creating what is now a “$26 billion” and rising industry.


All this brings to question, what happens if the games are not fully on the level? It happened before when “eight players...were banished from baseball for conspiring to throw the World Series way back in 1919. You might say that players are well compensated today and unlikely to be cajoled into striking out or fumbling a play but not all players are highly paid not to mention college players. You can legally bet the full spectrum of college sports from big Division I on down and you can bet on “offshore gambling sites” on high school and youth sports.


Of course, current technology has made betting easier than ever, “bets can be made in real time [In-Game Betting IGB], from your phone, mere feet away from where a game is being played.” IGB may eventually include bets like will a particular player strikeout or will the “kicker miss that extra point?” The industry wonks say “that the technology has become too foolproof for such scandals to arise, that any betting irregularities will be automatically sniffed out by sophisticated AI.” The author points out it may apply “when massive sums of money are wagered in one direction…[but fundamentally]...when you take away…[the]...element of fair competition, sports cease to have any meaning whatsoever.” Clearly, there’s lots of money to be made by all stakeholders and therein lies the concern that “trouble is coming, it’s all fun and games until suddenly, dramatically, it isn’t.”



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