The Supreme Court ruling allowing states to legalize sports gambling may make legal sense, but the 6-3 decision opens a Pandora’s box of thorny issues that could undermine the integrity of sports and lead to increased gambling losses and addiction — especially among people who can least afford it.
Of course, the ruling will also increase the overreliance on gambling revenues by state lawmakers in states who have become addicted to funding budgets by enticing residents to lose money playing casino games.
Lawmakers take an oath to protect citizens, not to enact regressive measures that prey on individuals. Yet, through the rapid expansion of casinos, lotteries — and now sports gambling — states have enacted public policies that systematically strip wealth from people and lead to increased social costs, including bankruptcies, suicides, and divorce.
Supporters argue that legalized sports betting will remove it from the shadowy underworld and allows for better regulation and oversight. But the legalization of casinos and lotteries has not stopped illegal wagering on numbers and other games of chance. Many may continue to use illegal bookies for sports gambling as well, out of habit, better odds, or easy credit.
The bigger problem of legalizing sports gambling is that it will open the industry to a bigger, more mainstream audience that will be bombarded by sophisticated marketing schemes designed to attract and keep individuals gambling.
The other problem for gamblers and sports lovers is how legalized betting will impact the integrity of athletics as the flood of money has the potential to influence the outcome of games.
This court ruling is a very bad bet.