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  1. #1
    Hot Pepsi's Avatar
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    Gambling on sports is about to be legal in a lot more places in the US

    Do we have a thread on this?

    My own feeling is that gambling is dumb and a malign influence on sports, but it cannot he stopped so weíre better off letting it be above board where it can be better monitored and regulated.

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    WOM's Avatar
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    I think gambling is dumb and a malign influence on just about everything. And legalizing it gives it a veneer of legitimacy which will draw more suckers into it...like legalizing weed.

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    ursus arctos's Avatar
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    It is sure to be a revolution, though I think that there is a great deal of uncertainty as to just what form the new system will take and how long the transition will be. New Jersey has been preparing for close to a year and still expects it to take a month for a limited sports book to be up and running at a single horse racing track.

    One football specific question that interests me is whether the massive infrastructure that already exists for football betting in the rest of the world will induce US operators to feature the sport more prominently than current levels of interest in the domestic professional game might suggest. If that happens (either because states look to established non-US firms to run their games or because they choose to ape existing systems), the impact on the sport here would be massive (one need only to look at the NFL and March Madness to see how important betting is to a sport's broader public profile.).

  4. #4
    Hot Pepsi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WOM View Post
    I think gambling is dumb and a malign influence on just about everything. And legalizing it gives it a veneer of legitimacy which will draw more suckers into it...like legalizing weed.
    True.

    I donít know if legalization dramatically increases the numbers of people who have *ever* smoked pot, but I suppose the casual or medicinal user might be more inclined to do it more often it if they can buy it at a regular shop during daylight.

    What it has done, certainly, is brought a lot of big money into the game which is driving out the small players.

    Not being remotely interested in weed, I have no idea if thatís good or bad for consumers. It should make it cheaper, but I donít know if it will.

  5. #5
    Hot Pepsi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ursus arctos View Post
    It is sure to be a revolution, though I think that there is a great deal of uncertainty as to just what form the new system will take and how long the transition will be. New Jersey has been preparing for close to a year and still expects it to take a month for a limited sports book to be up and running at a single horse racing track.

    One football specific question that interests me is whether the massive infrastructure that already exists for football betting in the rest of the world will induce US operators to feature the sport more prominently than current levels of interest in the domestic professional game might suggest. If that happens (either because states look to established non-US firms to run their games or because they choose to ape existing systems), the impact on the sport here would be massive (one need only to look at the NFL and March Madness to see how important betting is to a sport's broader public profile.).
    Iím sure there will be a lot of action from US gamblers on the big events - champions league, World Cup, Premiership.

    The NBA and MLB have been very involved in trying to get a cut of the action, but surely the NFL and college football account for the overwhelming majority of sports bets in the US, in Vegas or otherwise, right? I know that people do bet on all sports, but other than the NCAA basketball tournament, one doesnít hear anything about it or sense that itís popular. Football just lends itself to gambling better.

  6. #6
    ursus arctos's Avatar
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    I was thinking more about spread betting and in-game markets, which aren’t well established here (with the possible exception of the Super Bowl), but are extremely well-entrenched and lavishly funded by European and Asian operators.

    Another thing I’m sure we will start to see are state-run American Football Pool-style “lotteries”.

  7. #7
    Ray de Galles's Avatar
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    If you really must legalise sports betting over there (which is a massive retrograde step), at least try and ensure you outlaw advertising & sponsorship from gambling firms.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray de Galles View Post
    If you really must legalise sports betting over there (which is a massive retrograde step), at least try and ensure you outlaw advertising & sponsorship from gambling firms.
    I don't know if we'll see many stand-alone shops like William Hill, etc, and I don't think many (any states) will offer sports gambling in 7-11s etc, unless that gambling is part of the state lottery.

    Most states will want to continue to concentrate the activity at a limited number of casinos - or as part of their own lotteries - because the people who own and develop those places give money to politicians to ensure that the barriers to entry are fairly high. And in Maryland, for example, the slot-machines were added at horsetracks specifically because the horse people convinced voters that it was the obligation of all Marylanders to subsidize their cruel sport.

    As with slot-machines, etc, the pattern will likely be geographic. West Virginia and, of course, New Jersey permitted casinos because they were/are desperate. Then legislators in Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania saw that people from their own states were going to those neighboring states to gamble and figured that since people were going to do it anyway, they might as well try to keep that potential tax revenue at home. So that's how it spreads.

    As I understand it, the ruling doesn't "legalize sports betting." It says that the federal government can't prevent states from allowing it, but the states can and will regulate it or continue to ban it if they want to. However, many (most?) states will probably permit it so that they can tax it and then, no doubt, offset that revenue increase by lowering taxes on the people who really ought to be paying higher taxes.* This isn't likely to actually improve education funding or anything like that.

    The pro leagues don't want to deal with 51 different frameworks, so they're hoping the federal government can create a uniform system, but I don't understand how they can do that if the court just said that states can do what they want. Perhaps some of our legal minds can explain.


    *This precisely what happened in Pennsylvania a few years back. The law that allowed the commonwealth to license a limited number of casinos specifically said that the taxes raised from gambling would be offset by reduction in local property taxes that go to schools. So it shifted some tax burden from people who own property onto people who don't understand statistics.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Hot Pepsi View Post
    As I understand it, the ruling doesn't "legalize sports betting." It says that the federal government can't prevent states from allowing it, but the states can and will regulate it or continue to ban it if they want to. However, many (most?) states will probably permit it so that they can tax it and then, no doubt, offset that revenue increase by lowering taxes on the people who really ought to be paying higher taxes.* This isn't likely to actually improve education funding or anything like that.

    The pro leagues don't want to deal with 51 different frameworks, so they're hoping the federal government can create a uniform system, but I don't understand how they can do that if the court just said that states can do what they want. Perhaps some of our legal minds can explain.
    If I read the reports correctly, the reason the act was struck down was that it obliged the states (apart from noted exceptions) to enforce a ban. Sports betting could be banned as a Federal law, if the Federal Government took doing that on itself rather than getting someone else to do it's dirty work. But if it was a Federal law, that would have to apply in Nevada and the handful of others where exceptions were made by the state ban structure.[/not a legal mind]

    The summary from the majority opinion summarises neatly enough:- The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own.
    Last edited by Janik; 16-05-2018 at 17:44.

  10. #10
    Gerontophile's Avatar
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    Fairly sure that most Sportsbooks (betting shops to UK people) will want to do their thing on Phone apps, so they can cut down on personnel required in actual face-to-face betting.

    William Hill already have a big foothold in Las Vegas casinos.

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    WOM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hot Pepsi View Post
    True. I don’t know if legalization dramatically increases the numbers of people who have *ever* smoked pot, but I suppose the casual or medicinal user might be more inclined to do it more often it if they can buy it at a regular shop during daylight.
    Shit like this preys on the poor, the dim, and the desperate. Once there's a betting shop in the same plaza as the check-cashing joint and the 7-11, it'll be seen as a respectable way to 'make a few bucks'. It'll actually tax those who can least afford it, like everything else of this ilk.

  12. #12
    ursus arctos's Avatar
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    Literally no one is suggesting that in the US

  13. #13
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    Thanks. That makes sense.

    I really hate gambling, and I include fantasy sports in that. It's just one more thing -but a big thing - that make the games about something outside of the games, which undercuts the whole purpose of playing games. And, for reasons I don't understand (though I would like to), gambling is addictive and ruins lives.

    But the pros of making it legal outweigh the cons if it's done properly. For one, it protects the gamblers. When a bookie stiffs them, they no longer have to try to chase down some shady outfit in the Caymans or worse, the mob. And likewise, if they get into debt with a bookie, that can be treated like any other legitimate debt, rather than sending the boys around. So that's good, I suppose.

    And it may be better for the sports themselves if they can partner with the gambling outfits to look for signs of fixing. The gambling industry doesn't want games to be fixed any more than the leagues do.

    I hope/assume that sports books will not be allowed to offer action on truely amateur or semi-pro sports like high school games, low minor league baseball, or division III field hockey, etc. As I understand it, most of the problems internationally are in lower-division football and tennis, and not in the big events that attract a lot of attention. Then again, I've never heard of a high school or division III (or whatever) match-fixing scandal, so maybe it just isn't economically possible because it doesn't and never will attract enough honest bets.

    The most common problems in our country have been in college basketball and, I think, college football, though point-shaving is easier in basketball. The players are, at most, only being compensated with a scholarship and some free sweatshirts, etc. So, unless they have pro aspirations (which most really don't) they don't have a lot to lose by taking a bribe. But their sports are popular enough to be on national TV and attract a lot of interest (at least collectively, most individual games don't draw much of an audience). So those are sports that lots of gamblers will be interested in, creating a big enough pool of money that the risk-benefit of trying to fix can make sense to criminals. And a lot of athletes, and a lot of other students, get into debt with bookies, so the bookies may get leverage over athletes.

    The major pro athletes are getting paid too much to risk blowing it all. At least that's the prevailing wisdom and it seems to be true. But the officials aren't - NFL refs aren't even full-time FFS.

    On the other hand, the law could require the legal gambling outfits to disclose if they've taken any bets from anyone directly involved. Assuming these are going to be big companies - like William Hill or the ones that currently control Vegas, etc - it's not worth the risk of them losing their license to protect the identity of a few of their customers, so I think they'd usually comply. At least more often than the mob.

  14. #14
    ursus arctos's Avatar
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    The NBA believes that one of the potential advantages of the growth of legalised betting on its games is that it will allow for much more robust and comprehensive monitoring of betting patterns on its games than is currently the case.

  15. #15
    Hot Pepsi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ursus arctos View Post
    Literally no one is suggesting that in the US
    Well, Bill Simmons and "Cousin Sal" were talking on his podcast about how great it will be to be able to bet at 7-11s. I don't think he really understands, yet, how this is going to work.

    However, like I said, if the states make sports-betting part of their lottery system, then it will be available at 7-11s et al. Though given how popular the lottery, scratch-tickets, etc, already are at those places, including a kind of gambling that isn't *entirely* (although still mostly) based on luck would actually be an upgrade.

    But I don't think we'll have many betting shops like in the UK. Not so much because anyone is worried about the miserable situation WOM describes, but because the people who own the licenses want to create some artificial scarcity and the states want the licenses to be expensive.
    Last edited by Hot Pepsi; 16-05-2018 at 18:47.

  16. #16
    ursus arctos's Avatar
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    Apologies, literally no one serious with any real knowledge of legal and economic context is suggesting that in the US.

    I think that you've outlined many of the relevant issues very well (as has Janik on the core of the ruling).

  17. #17
    Hot Pepsi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ursus arctos View Post
    The NBA believes that one of the potential advantages of the growth of legalised betting on its games is that it will allow for much more robust and comprehensive monitoring of betting patterns on its games than is currently the case.
    Right and doing that will cost something, which is why they're calling their requested 1% cut an "integrity fee." They claim they need that to cover the costs of the necessary monitoring, etc. That's just classic regulatory capture/rent-seeking, however. That's about 20% of the bookies' profits and probably a lot more than what it would cost to do whatever monitoring the leagues plan to do. Besides, the leagues are already trying to monitor this stuff, and legalizing betting on their games will increase the audience for their games anyway.

  18. #18
    ursus arctos's Avatar
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    It doesn't make sense for the leagues/associations to have separate "integrity monitoring" operations, the bookies are the ones with the data and the technology, and they should be taking the lead in that, as they do in Europe.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by ursus arctos View Post
    It doesn't make sense for the leagues/associations to have separate "integrity monitoring" operations, the bookies are the ones with the data and the technology, and they should be taking the lead in that, as they do in Europe.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hot Pepsi View Post
    And it may be better for the sports themselves if they can partner with the gambling outfits to look for signs of fixing. The gambling industry doesn't want games to be fixed any more than the leagues do.
    *cough*, yeah, as they do in Europe. Bookmakers comments, usually off-the-record, generally show them to be rather underwhelmed about the response they get when they report suspicious betting patterns to the Tennis Integrity Unit. cf, this, which appeared in the Guardian in 2016:-

    When [Scott] Ferguson worked for Betfair from 2002 to 2008, its integrity unit spent most of its time monitoring three things: racing, credit cards and tennis. “Betfair were sick to death with nothing being done about corruption in tennis,” he says.

    “Things have improved at the top level, but there is more of it going on in the Challengers and Futures level” – which is where those ranked outside the top 70 or 80 mostly play.

    That is where everyone says the majority of the match-fixing takes place now. There are far more Challenger matches than on the main tour, which means more opportunities for the fixers. There is far less prize money, which means players may be easier to bribe. And, unlike a decade ago, most bookmakers offer prices on lower ranks of the tennis ladder.


    Quote Originally Posted by Hot Pepsi View Post
    I really hate gambling, and I include fantasy sports in that. It's just one more thing -but a big thing - that make the games about something outside of the games, which undercuts the whole purpose of playing games. And, for reasons I don't understand (though I would like to), gambling is addictive and ruins lives.
    I've been wondering if Fantasy Sports could only have been popularised in a country that mostly banned legalised sports gambling? After all, why demonstrate your deep understanding of sport and engage your competitiveness for some virtual beans when you could make actual money from the same opinions? Fantasy Sports are probably well established enough now to survive, but I assume that, if Sports betting did become common-place to the point of 7/11s/equivalent of British High Street bookies, there would be some kind of drain away from the Fantasy Leagues.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hot Pepsi View Post
    But the pros of making it legal outweigh the cons if it's done properly. For one, it protects the gamblers. When a bookie stiffs them, they no longer have to try to chase down some shady outfit in the Caymans or worse, the mob. And likewise, if they get into debt with a bookie, that can be treated like any other legitimate debt, rather than sending the boys around. So that's good, I suppose.
    There is a lot contained in "if it's done properly". Gambling debts were [url=https://licensinglaws.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/gambling-debts-enforceability-and-voiding-bets/]unenforceable by courts in England and Wales up until 2005[url] despite off-course betting becoming legal back in the 1960s. It looks like the same situation still held in the Republic of Ireland as of 2017. Some of the basis of this is likely to be British laws dating back to 1710 (see first link), given that the original set of laws of Ireland were the those of the British state they had just broken away from. And, well, the USA was also a British colony in 1710, and went the same away of starting with British law rather than a blank canvass and then adapting it to suit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hot Pepsi View Post
    I hope/assume that sports books will not be allowed to offer action on truely amateur or semi-pro sports like high school games, low minor league baseball, or division III field hockey, etc. As I understand it, most of the problems internationally are in lower-division football and tennis, and not in the big events that attract a lot of attention. Then again, I've never heard of a high school or division III (or whatever) match-fixing scandal, so maybe it just isn't economically possible because it doesn't and never will attract enough honest bets.

    The most common problems in our country have been in college basketball and, I think, college football, though point-shaving is easier in basketball. The players are, at most, only being compensated with a scholarship and some free sweatshirts, etc. So, unless they have pro aspirations (which most really don't) they don't have a lot to lose by taking a bribe. But their sports are popular enough to be on national TV and attract a lot of interest (at least collectively, most individual games don't draw much of an audience). So those are sports that lots of gamblers will be interested in, creating a big enough pool of money that the risk-benefit of trying to fix can make sense to criminals. And a lot of athletes, and a lot of other students, get into debt with bookies, so the bookies may get leverage over athletes.

    The major pro athletes are getting paid too much to risk blowing it all. At least that's the prevailing wisdom and it seems to be true. But the officials aren't - NFL refs aren't even full-time FFS.

    On the other hand, the law could require the legal gambling outfits to disclose if they've taken any bets from anyone directly involved. Assuming these are going to be big companies - like William Hill or the ones that currently control Vegas, etc - it's not worth the risk of them losing their license to protect the identity of a few of their customers, so I think they'd usually comply. At least more often than the mob.
    The problem with truly, truly amateur sport is that the strength of teams varies in ways outsiders simply can't know about. Say the team's star central midfielder is going to have to cut back the amount of time she is spending on Football as her other half is fed up with being solo with the kids every weekend. She won't be at training on Thursday, and may or may not be available for the away game this Saturday. She really wants to play but, well, y'know... That sort of thing makes it very hard to properly price matches. So the bookies are understandably wary about including them.

    In general any event with decent coverage where some participants are not earning from it is vulnerable. So college sports in particular would be a big concern. However that might be a good thing, as it could be what's needed to make Americans realise that the way their university sport has developed is a Frankenstein's Monster and it needs a deep rethink. A handful of sports are now clearly big business but one which point-blank refuses to pay it's participants. There are even rules forcing players wanting to earn a living playing those sports to play for free beforehand. Which is just bizarre, and the complete opposite of an amateur sport. If sports betting forces a step back and re-assessment, it could provide an accidental benefit to American sport.

    Requiring the bookmakers to report if a participant was betting with them seems overly onerous. How many college sports players, let alone officials can you name? You are expecting someone doing a McJob in a bookies shop to know them all by name. And know that this particular James Smith is a college third baseman, not one of the other 25 James Smith's living in the area. And that assumes that bettors would be required to have ID logged for each transaction. That would happen online, but an over-the-counter transaction paid in cash in a British bookies wouldn't require any form of ID if there was no issue of underaged betting. Without ID then your staff member in the local bookies has to know all the faces as well! If a guy comes in and puts 20 bucks on Nonesuch Titans to blow out Nowheresville Cougars in a game two states over, that is likely to pass under the radar.

  20. #20
    Hot Pepsi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ursus arctos View Post
    It doesn't make sense for the leagues/associations to have separate "integrity monitoring" operations, the bookies are the ones with the data and the technology, and they should be taking the lead in that, as they do in Europe.
    Not separate, but theyíll probably have to pay some consultancy or other to at least call them if they spot a possible problem.

  21. #21
    ursus arctos's Avatar
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    Janik, there is significant evidence that the North American professional leagues will take this more seriously than the tennis authorities have. For one thing, they only have to deal with a closed shop of 32 clubss and 12x as many players. They don't need or care about the equivalent of satelliite tournaments.

    Although there are some issues on the enforceabliity of gambling debts here, there are nowhere near as serious as those in the UK, largely due to the very significant political influence of Nevada casino interests.

  22. #22
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    Most college programs arenít actually making much money or any money off of football or basketball, let alone their athletic department as a whole, and theyíd rather drop them than share half of the revenue with the athletes (pro leagues pay about half their revenue to players, so iím using that as a starting point) because the economics just wouldnít make sense. They often donít make sense as it is.

    The big conference teams, at least, could give a few thousand to players and let them get endorsement money and loosen up a few other things, and iím all for that, but would that be enough to disincentivize match-fixing? I donít think so. I think it would be just like lower division football or tennis, but I donít know how much money can be made from fixing a game and how much money the fixers would be willing to pay to make it happen.

    And what about something like wrestling (actual wrestling, not WWE) or track and field. Even if those athletes could somehow get 75% of the ticket, parking, concession, and TV revenues, if wouldn't add up to a lot of money per athlete.

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