When I was a student at the University of Tennessee in the 1960s, the campus connection of the gambling syndicate in town would hand out betting cards during the fall football season. If you pick three winners in an upcoming contest, they’ll pay $5.
You quickly realize that the goal is not to make money for you, but to take it from you. Yes, it’s a form of gambling, man, times have changed.
Before the Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in favor of online gambling, most Americans likely lived their entire lives untouched by online sports gambling, which rakes in more than $100 billion a year, according to an investigative report by The New York Times and Washington Post .
Audiences are now being swayed by TV commercials, the shameless proliferation of social media, and a plethora of recommendations from so-called “experts.”
Before and during each game, the gullible sports public is advised which teams to bet on, how to bet and how easy it is for bettors to score high. Betting odds and spreads are published regularly in the national media, including The Times and The Post.
Online gambling has serious consequences for millions of Americans.
In selling their products, betting marketers have struck deals with colleges and universities in exchange for multimillion-dollar payments to promote on-campus betting by placing ads on sports betting sites. College students are having class, phone in hand, betting.
Someone somewhere must be asking whether promoting gambling on campuses is in keeping with the mission of higher education.
A corollary to the rise of sports betting is the emergence of the NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) program, which allows college athletes to monetize their names and likenesses. Now, not only do we have students betting on campus, we also have wealthy athletes.
After reviewing more than 140 reports related to sports betting and gambling, the National Council on Problem Gambling issued a statement saying, “Recent research shows that with the explosion of sports betting due to the development of mobile and online technology, problem gambling may would increase the creation of seemingly infinite betting opportunities.”
Jeff Bell, CEO of Legal Shield and IDShield, a company that aims to protect and empower people through legal means and privacy management solutions, has proposed banning gambling operators from advertising on influential sports channels that Betting odds, spreads and other gambling data will appear.
Bell wrote in Forbes that operators should be required to disclose hard facts about sports betting, including financial and mental health risks.
From the Mayo Clinic’s Family Health Handbook, “Compulsive gambling, also known as gambling disorder, is an uncontrollable urge to continue gambling despite the toll it takes on your life. Gambling means you are willing to value yourself to take risks in the hope of obtaining something more valuable.”
The Mayo Clinic adds: “Gambling can lead to addiction by stimulating the brain’s reward system like drugs or alcohol. If you have a compulsive gambling problem, you may be constantly chasing bets that lead to losses, depleting savings and creating debt.” You may hide your actions, or even turn to theft or fraud to support your addiction.”
Perhaps most importantly, sports fans of all ages are likely to convince themselves (if they haven’t already) that they cannot enjoy sports without engaging in the various configurations of gimmicks available to lure them.
Jack Topchik is a retired editor whose interests include Shakespeare, the revived Oriole and movies where people speak in complete sentences. He doted on each of Frederick’s dogs. He wrote from Frederick. Email him at [email protected]