There are two all-sports radio stations in Chicago, one owned by ESPN and the other owned by CBS.
As a career sportswriter with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Broadcast Communications, I would have gladly accepted a job from either of those stations. However, there is something that occurs on sports radio daily that upsets me.
A majority of the hosts on the sports radio stations talk about placing bets on sports events. They talk about it all the time. One show has a “show pot’’ of money to which the staffers contribute, and they discuss upon which sporting event the funds in the pot will be wagered.
My problem with this is that wagering on sports in the United States is illegal, with some exceptions.
Did you know that there is more than one exception?
There are four states in the U.S. in which sports gambling is legal: Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana. One wonders if those states can have legal sports gambling, why can’t the rest of the states? After all, many of them now have legal casinos.
The answer to that question is that in 1992 a federal law was passed called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which proclaimed sports gambling illegal except for in those states that already had it. The four states listed were “grandfathered’’ in.
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New Jersey, a state which has always been the hillbilly cousin of Nevada in terms of gambling (as Atlantic City suffers in comparison to Las Vegas), has tried to institute legal gambling, and in November of 2011, Governor Chris Christie was authorized to make it so. New Jersey already had 12 casinos and four racetracks at the time.
Immediately, the state was sued by a coalition of interests – the NCAA, NBA, HFL, NHL and MLB – which has been charged with guarding the sanctity of the PASPA.
Brian Tuohy, a veteran writer who has long examined the history of sports gambling, wrote a lengthy piece on the topic of New Jersey’s efforts for Field of Green, the USA Today-sponsored website operated in coordination with the University of Southern California.
The most significant takeaways from Tuohy’s article are these:
In March of 2013, PASPA was challenged and upheld by a U.S. District judge in the New Jersey case. It was again upheld by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals later in 2013. However, one of the Circuit Court judges basically stated that PASPA is unconstitutional.
PASPA virtually offers to Nevada a monopoly on sports gambling, and that is against almost all federal standards.
Sports gambling is legal in other parts of the developed world, including in the United Kingdom, where it is a major industry. With an estimated $380 billion wagered illegally in the United States every year, making it legal would be a boost to someone’s economy.
Illegal bookmakers want the process to be legalized. It would make the process safer, and would encourage more gambling.
Sports gambling is so pervasive that making it legal would seem to legitimize an activity that is all but legal already. But I have told my sons to never gamble on sports, other than to participate in an NCAA pool.
I’m not suggesting that any professional or college game is fixed, but I do know that bookies know what they are doing when they set lines on games. I would suggest anybody who says he makes money overall gambling on sports is probably exaggerating.
That being said, I WILL bet that the Cubs will not win the World Series in my lifetime.
But then again, that’s not much of a gamble.