The Good and Bad of Legalized Sports Betting

Man Holding Smartphone With a Green Thumbs up on Left and a Red Thumbs down on Right

Sports betting is entering new territory. States are pushing for legalization since the ban dropped on the federal level.

In a matter of a few years, it looks like 48 states will have legalized sports betting. Before long, you’ll be able to make sports bets in all 50 states.

That’s great for sports fans and gamblers. Still, there are some that point out the negative aspects.

Most Americans believe the good outweighs the bad. Why don’t we take a look for ourselves?

Here are the good and bad of legalized sports betting.

Legal Sports Betting Creates Jobs – Good

When betting becomes legal in a state, it impacts communities throughout. Sportsbooks employ a lot of people, which means rapid job growth.

Handicappers, management, cashiers, and more are all necessary to operate a sportsbook.

One thing that I’ve seen firsthand is the economic impact that comes from gambling.

When WinStar World Casino first opened its doors as a bingo hall, the area was desolate. You had a massive building with a truck stop down the road.

Unemployment was rampant, and the area was depressing. Now the area is thriving with hotels, restaurants, and golf courses.

Legal sports betting creates jobs in many industries. That’s a tremendous benefit for all members of a community.

If you’ve ever wanted to work in the gambling industry, you may get your shot.

It Puts a Dent in Organized Crime – Good

Anytime you legalize something, you’re going to impact organized crime. Most Americans don’t have much issue with underground betting organizations.

If a small group of gamblers wants to get charged a huge vig and gamble on credit with crazy interest, that’s on them.

However, it’s the other illicit activities I take major exception. Organized crime doesn’t focus much on illegal gambling.

Instead, they want more lucrative revenue streams. That can come in the form of drug trafficking, illegal weapons, and human trafficking.

Woman Playing Slot Machine in Casino, Safe Zone Caution Sign

If your business is selling human beings, you’re a scumbag. I’m for anything that may take one penny out of your pocket.

Sadly, the proliferation of sports betting won’t end organized crime. Yet, it could have an impact on their bottom line.

The House Always has an Edge – Bad

Many people don’t realize that sports betting is not a coin flip. The house always has an edge; that’s why they take action.

The sportsbooks charge a vig on every wager they make. For example, you bet $100 to win $90.

The other half is also betting $100 and losing. That $10 goes to the sportsbook.

It’s a foolproof system for making money if the sportsbook draws equal action on both sides. That means sports bettors must win over 52% of their bets to make a profit.

So, the proliferation of sports betting is going to mean more people are losing money. That’s the way sports betting goes.

Gambling losses aren’t any worse than money spent for other entertainment expenses. Still, losing money is always wrong in my book.

Bettors can diminish the impact of the losses by learning the fundamentals. Then they can dive into sports betting with much fewer adverse results.

The Money Generated for States is Tremendous – Good

Sports betting creates millions of dollars in tax revenue for states. Tax money is vital for a government to operate effectively.

States spend the money on infrastructure, education, and other social programs. Having the potential to enhance the lives of all residents is a great thing.

Since sports betting is still in its infancy in many areas, it’s unclear its impact. However, several states reported tax revenue of over $50 million in 2020.

A Sportsbook with Multiple Monitors Showing Games

Given the wild year that was, I’d expect those numbers to climb significantly for 2021.

When states are weighing whether to legalize something, the first consideration is money. If there’s enough cash at play, it’s hard for the states to pass.

We’ve seen this happen with states legalizing marijuana. The states that made a move early are cashing in big time.

The Criminal Element Will Continue – Bad

Regardless of something being legal, there will continue to be a criminal element. All the weed dealers weren’t forced to move when Colorado legalized recreational marijuana.

Although, I suspect some went legit and are now millionaires.

Regarding sports betting, legalization won’t eradicate illegal bookies and sportsbooks. So, there will continue to be that element.

I happen to play golf with a few bookies and am glad they’ll continue having plenty of money to lose.

I point this out as a con only because one side makes it sound like illegal betting will cease. It won’t, but it will diminish.

Sports Betting Is a Proven Industry – Good

One great thing sports betting has going for it is that it’s already a proven market. That allows states to quickly adopt regulations that serve the bettors’ best interests.

Sports betting has been prominent in the U.S. for centuries. Our forefathers were wagering on horse races and other events as soon as they stepped off the boat.

Many of the major casinos have been in business for decades. That record of good business adds consumer confidence. The online casino boom hurt a lot of gamblers.

Odds Board and Money

People lost large sums of cash and had their identities stolen. Having the names, you trust in a regulated market should put you at ease.

Nevada did a tremendous service for states by laying the groundwork. States that model their sports betting industry after them should see incredible success.

It May Affect the Games – Bad

The integrity of sports is something we hold sacred as fans and gamblers. The idea that sports betting could forever change the nature of sports is a valid concern.

Over the past 100 years, several sports betting scandals have rocked the world of sports. It’s fair to assume many more scandals went unnoticed.

Yet all of these scandals occurred when sports betting wasn’t widely available. The fact is that nearly all involved a criminal element pulling strings.

Why should we assume that the legal market will be more likely to create abuse?

I’m not at all convinced that we should. The number of games impacted by cheating is minute compared to the massive volume of games.

There will continue to be bad apples whether legal sports betting exists or not. It’s better not to live in fear about what could happen.

Sports Fans Have a Healthy Outlet – Good

Probably the most significant benefit of sports betting for many of us is that we love sports. If you’re like me, you also love gambling.

As states legalize sports betting, citizens can enjoy healthy activity freely. There are many influences sports betting can have on your health.

People Sitting at Casino Sportsbook, Three Dollar Bills Spread Out

You’ll be regularly exercising your brain as you handicap games and hunt for the best values. Sports betting is also a great way to unwind for a few hours.

When participants gamble responsibly, they can enjoy hours of stress-free entertainment. The cost can remain low by making small bets spread through the week.

For sports fans, betting on games adds a fun element to watching sports.

Legal Betting Protects the Consumer – Good

I talked about some dangers of illegal gambling operations. The primary concern is the predatory lending practices of some underground casinos.

When losing gamblers can’t pay, that’s where significant problems start. We’ve all seen the deadbeat gambler and the collecting bookie on tv and film.

While the actual interactions are probably less dramatic, there’s no love lost. But legal betting doesn’t protect gamblers from making poor choices.

Having a well-regulated industry ensures that casinos are appropriately licensed. That means any scam sportsbooks can’t pop up and steal your money.

The sportsbooks will also have proper security measures in place to thwart hackers.

In all areas, legal sports betting protects the consumer.

Gambling Can be Addictive – Bad

Now for the most significant issue facing legal sports betting. Gambling can be addictive.

Millions of Americans are affected by problem gambling every year. You can’t ignore that fact.

Instead, states should address the concern head-on. What we’re seeing are programs to assist problem gamblers.

Handcuffed Hands With Casino Chip and Roulette Background

Dedicating resources to the recognition of gambling addiction is a paramount concern. Unfortunately, addiction is a part of life.

That can’t be enough to scare states away from moving forward with legal sports betting.

In Summary

There’s a lot that states are uncovering on the path to legal sports betting. The good and bad of legalized sports betting make a case for support and opposition.

Still, the positive aspects of sports betting far outweigh the negative. Sports betting is all good in my book.