Let me confess, I’m an enormous sports fan. Sports played a pivotal role within my youth, crescendoing within my collegiate football career, and watching sports remains a popular pastime today. Similar to fans, I welcome innovations which make watching sports more fun and engaging. But there’s a fresh threat that tries to exploit this enthusiasm without regard to the results, and it’s online sports betting.
From your ever-present mobile phone, you can raise your emotional and — more importantly, financial — engagement with any game or match, but in addition, you expose yourself to alarming risks. If you’ve scrolled social media marketing feeds or tuned in to view on game day, you’ve probably been inundated with promos for “risk-free” and “no-brainer” betting opportunities on online sportsbooks. The ads position sports gambling as a fun, easy method to engage with the game and socialize with your pals, not unlike the fantasy football league you’re in.
But this isn’t just a game. It’s serious, real-life consequences for an incredible number of Americans, and we have to demand more education, regulation and accountability to help keep people safe. We shouldn’t wait for online sports betting to become problem; we must push for preemptive action from operators and state governments.
High Profits, Few Rules
Considering that the Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on sports betting in 2018, any state can decide to legalize it. Currently, 25 states and Washington, D.C. have already done so, and many will make money from the newly legal industry.
Prior to this year’s Super Bowl, 23.2 million Americans reported plans to bet $4.3 billion on the game. Accurate documentation 7.6 million people said they would bet online, up 63% from the prior year.
The sports betting market in the U.S. generated $1 billion in revenue in 2020, and that number is projected to cultivate sixfold by 2023. If betting becomes legalized in every 50 states, estimated revenues will exceed $19 billion a year. New multibillion-dollar marketing niches will expand as media and tech startups compete for consumer attention.
Plenty of men and women stand to generate income from sports betting, but so far, there are few laws or other controls set up to protect consumers from misleading or predatory marketing tactics. And what are the expenses?
The Dangerous Intersection Of Tech And Gambling
In a review of more than 140 studies and reports related to sports betting and gambling addiction, the National Council on Problem Gaming released a statement saying, “recent research shows that gambling problems may increase as sports gambling grows explosively at the same time that mobile and online technologies evolve to generate seemingly unlimited types of wagering opportunities.”
Some highlights from their findings:
- Sports bettors have higher rates of gambling problems than other gamblers (at least two times as high), and gambling problems increase with online betting
- 45% of sports betting now occurs online 电竞博彩; that is problematic because online gambling is available any time, providing more convenience and privacy
- Sports bettors who use mobile phones have an increased incidence of problem gambling
- Aggressive marketing and advertising promotions allow it to be more difficult for sports bettors who are trying to reduce their gambling
- Young people have higher rates of gambling problems than adults; 75% of students gambled, according to data from 2018
As online sports betting becomes more accessible and socially acceptable, especially among younger fans, we could expect these problems to intensify unless we take decisive action now.
What Is The Path Forward?
I don’t advocate for a complete ban on sports gambling, but we have to allow it to be much safer, starting with the next actions:
• Researching the dangers and educating the public
Many sports fans simply don’t learn about the harm online sports betting can have. We ought to do more research about the financial, mental health and addiction risks connected with sports gambling. I think the funding because of this research, along with educational outreach and treatment programs, should result from a direct tax on sports betting revenue. In the UK, there has been growing demands this kind of mandatory industry tax to pay for gambling addiction treatment.
• Prohibiting TV advertising for sports betting
I think betting operators should be banned from advertising on ESPN and other influential sports channels, not forgetting sponsoring programming that discusses wagering odds, point spreads and other gambling data. If total prohibition isn’t possible, operators should at minimum be necessary to disclose hard facts about sports betting, including the financial and mental health risks and the actual odds of winning and losing.
These ads normalize gambling without addressing any of the hazards, and that is especially dangerous for children watching. There are no parental controls for sports programs, and in just a single generation, we run the risk that sports fans will quickly believe which they can’t enjoy sports without being engaged in some type of gambling.
• Enacting strict laws and regulations
Casinos are highly regulated by gaming commissions in states where they are legal, such as Nevada and New Jersey. I think we need equally strong statutes and regulations to hold online sports betting operators accountable. It’s inadequate to have industry best practices or codes of conduct; we need clear laws which can be enforced by government agencies.
I really like sports, and I support tech and business innovation, but this problem is approximately far significantly more than fandom or profits. We can’t allow online sports betting companies to operate without rules or consequences when the stakes are so high.