Friday, January 25, 2008

Don't Bet on It

This week in Dr. Lapchick's class, we had a very interesting discussion about how commonplace gambling has become, particularly with regards to sport. He opened up by calling us out, asking if we would use cocaine, carry a handgun, drive under the influence, etc. The response for each was a resounding, "No."

It was interesting, then, that three-quarters of our class said they would either participate in an office pool or bet on a game. As you may know, sports gambling is only legal in Nevada, yet it has grown into an accepted reality - particularly during March Madness and the Super Bowl. Perhaps because it is viewed as a small-scale wager, or removed from organized crime, we have allowed ourselves to justify our decision.

The truth is, however, that gambling's addictive nature can lead to harm quickly. Everyone thinks they can beat the odds, but many fall short. If an athlete, trainer, coach, or administrator gets in a bookie's pocket, the integrity of the game could soon be compromised. Though this is a hypothetical situation, the issue has plagued athletic competition over the last century, with a dramatic spike in the Internet age.

In fact, the 2007 Super Bowl had over $93 million in legal wagers - that is, from those over the age of 21 and physically in the state of Nevada - yet this represented only 1.5% of the actual amount wagered - an astonishing $8 billion on one game! It can be assumed that the difference was comprised of bets with local illegal bookies or through Internet sites.

Congress took a stab at Internet gambling in 2006 with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which effectively shut down US poker and sports wagering sites. Offshore betting, however, remains rampant and unchecked.

This issue is at the forefront of sport ethics and will remain so, with nearly $400 billion bet annually. The cliche is that money talks - the question is, what is it saying?

Interesting Links:
Sports Betting

History of Point-shaving

Sports Wagering Industry Info

What do you think?


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