During this year’s Super Bowl, an estimated $140 million was bet legally in the state of Nevada, while an estimated $4.6 billion was bet illegally across the United States, according to Geoff Freeman, the CEO of the American Gaming Association.
Considering this information, many have begun to question whether or not sports gambling should be illegal. The state of New Jersey believes that if money is going to be gambled regardless of law, it should be legal so that it can be safely regulated by state governments.
In an attempt to legalize sports gambling state-wide, New Jersey challenged the Supreme Court’s Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) ruling, causing students on John Brown University’s campus to consider the implications of a nation with no sports gambling restrictions.
Abigail Vining, senior elementary education major, said, “[it’s] a really hard question. I’ve always just accepted the fact that people bet on sports,” Vining said. “It’s not something I would consider [changing].”
However, Vining said she does find thing inherently wrong with gambling. “I think gambling is a sin, no matter what context … if we can avoid it becoming legal again, I think that would be better for everyone.”
Cameron Hoskins, a sophomore communication major, isn’t convinced that there’s anything wrong with the idea, but said he still has reservations.
“On the surface it’s fine—for consumers like you and me, but when it gets to the bigger people and coaches [can] get in on it … and start playing and losing for money, it gets to a sticky situation that I don’t like,” Hoskins said.
“I’m good with it and people can do it, but when you get to an area where the outcomes of games are easily swayed and changed [by money], I don’t like that,” Hoskins said. “If the law is changed I don’t think it’s going to say players and coaches can bet, but how hard is it to give someone twenty bucks and say, ‘go put this on the patriots’?”
Regarding how a change like this would affect society, Vining said, “Gambling breaks up families, puts people into debt, and encourages alcoholism.” Vining said she sees the potential economic benefit of seeing all the money gambled on sports in the year go through legal channels but believes that the benefits to not outweigh the liabilities.
Theo Young, a senior biblical and theological studies major, said he also sees the potential impact that a decision like this could have. “Sports events are huge in the states and I think that would change the culture around it – the emphasis being on what you can gain out of an event rather than just enjoying it,” Young said. “It becomes more about economic potential. [Sports gambling] shifts some of the fun-loving atmosphere of sports into an economic, every-day kind of thing.”
Young, however, said he believes government officials should not be allowed to gamble on sports. “When you place it in the hands of people who have power to manipulate the events, then it becomes dangerous,” Young said.