Dissecting Sports Betting

Betting and sports have had a long love affair. It’s a practice that can be dated back to ancient times. From, working class men placing wagers on cockfighting and bare-knuckle fights in dusty old rooms before the advent of modern sports, betting has come a long way. Today, the betting industry has become increasingly complex and sophisticated. It is a multi-billion-pound industry, run by hugely successful and profitable corporations. These large companies have a foothold in every major sport that you can think of. There simply is no escaping it, betting has seeped into the veins of our culture, deeper than ever before. However, it is not all sunshine and roses. The omnipresence of betting really does make you wonder of the implications that it has on the sporting industry and on society.

Betting has been a major contributing factor in increase of corruption in sport. There have been a multitude of instances across various sports such as boxing, football, cricket, where betting has affected the honesty and eroded the sportsman spirit of both, the match officials and players involved. Betting has led to athletes and match referees underperforming, grossly affecting the outcome of the match and in the process discrediting the entire sport and their colleagues. In spite of this, we see betting companies are some of the major sponsors for teams and sporting events throughout the UK, America and Australia. The normalization of betting has been further aided by the extremely liberal laws that the UK has for gambling. The culmination of these factors has resulted in almost half a million problem gamblers just in the UK, while over 55,000 children in the UK have developed gambling issues.

The flip side of the coin is that betting has benefitted sports in several ways. Studies have shown that individuals who gamble on sports are more ardent viewers who watch substantially more games of a league or tournament compared to someone who was not gambling. Apart from increased viewership, betting brings in millions in revenue through advertisement and sponsorship. In addition to revenue through sponsorships, leagues such as the NBA (National Basketball Association) and the MLB (Major League Baseball), are working out deals to take advantage of this booming industry by potentially collecting a fee from the betting companies for each bet that is placed on their sport. This would be an extremely lucrative revenue stream for these sports but would also result in them promoting betting apps and websites which leads to several ethical and potential health issues for viewers, a major chunk of which are young impressionable minds. Another advantage of having a legalised and well-regulated industry of betting means that it can be a good earner for the government in the form of taxes and eliminates the black market for betting which exists in countries that outlaw gambling.

The longevity and history of sports betting tells us that no matter how hard we can try; it cannot be eliminated. And, given the benefits that it has and being a staunch believer in the autonomy and freedom of the individual, I believe that people should be able to gamble legally if they want to. However, its important that measures are put in place to reduce the participation of children and

pathways to be built so that people suffering from a gambling addiction can receive the help they require. Lastly, as a sports fanatic, sporting bodies need to do their best to knockout betting related corruption from all sport!