Sports Gambling in Kansas
Written by Austin Harden on September 21, 2022
From the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s, to the gradual legalization of marijuana in 2022, we are constantly asking, what will be made legal next? One answer is gambling, and more specifically, gambling on sports.
Casinos first started in the state of Nevada in 1931, but first became a legitimate industry in the 1940s and 1950s. Sorts gambling originated with sports such as horse racing and boxing, in the early 1900s. What led to the inevitable banning of sports gambling was the infamous Black Sox scandal. In the 1919 baseball world series, the Chicago White Sox lost intentionally to the Cincinnati Reds. They did this because they were bribed ten thousand dollars by a known gambling associate, Arnold Rothstein. This tainted sports wagering, as people now understood that betting on sports would tarnish the possible legitimacy of the game in question.
But in 1949, the state of Nevada legalized sports gambling again to increase tourism to the state. The federal government imposed a ten percent tax on all sports bets in 1951, but because the sportsbooks and casinos were now losing money, the federal government changed the tax to two percent in 1971. This led to the rebirth of legal sports gambling in Las Vegas, all while congress attempted to curb sports betting as to depopularlize it. This did not work. Sports gambling continued to boom during the 1960s and 1970s. The internet only continued this boom.
As the 1980s rolled around, people were demanding to have online ways of placing bets, not only in the sports world, but also casino bets. By the early 2000s, online sports betting had become widely popularized. Again, congress attempted to make it harder to legally bet on sports online, and this time it widely worked. Many online sportsbooks were forced to stay away from the United states clientele. That was until New Jersey began its eight year long pursuit of trying to make sports betting legal in the state. At first it was not successful, but on June 11th, 2018, New Jersey was able to legalize sports wagering in casinos. Casinos could also ask for approval for mobile and online sports gambling after thirty days. The rest is history. For more detailed history on sports gambling, click here.
Since then twenty six states have legalized sports wagering, including online. The most recent being Kansas, which legalized it on September 1st, 2022. I talked with Eric Sullivan, a self-proclaimed sports fanatic, about how he felt about this new development.
“I believe sports betting is a big no-no.” Eric Sullivan, a Kansas State University student, disagrees with the legalization of sports gambling. When asked to further elaborate on why he dislikes sports gambling, he talks about many of the possible side effects it could have on humans themselves.
“Gambling can be very addictive because it causes dopamine rush in the brain, similar to nicotine in cigarettes. So when you put that money on the line, you will continue to have that desire to keep putting more and more money down.” He warns me about the harm of gambling addiction. About 2.6% of Americans have a gambling issue of some kind. Eric is afraid of this number increasing by an exponential amount, until there is no return. Gambling can put many people into debt, he described, hurting their relationships with others, and even possibly ruining their lives. A gambling addiction is no different than alcoholism or a drug addiction, it is just less advertised than them. An addiction of any kind could, and will, ruin families and lives.
When asked about how sports gambling can affect the games, Eric had this to say “These players can get money hungry for more and more, and eventually the sports betting can turn into these players taking bribes.” He goes into more detail about how it ruins the integrity and fun of the sport itself. This can include the Black Sox scandal as I mentioned earlier. Those players were banned for life from the sport of baseball, and that world series is forever tainted in the eyes of the viewership. Eric says not only will there be more occurrences, such as this one, but the games played that the audience watches, will become tainted as a whole. The audience will stop paying interest in these games and will, inevitably, lead to the demise of professional sports itself.
Although Eric does see some upside in the new legalization. He believes this does allow more freedom to the states that have legalized sports gambling. “If there was an upside to this whole ordeal, it would be that we as a people have more freedom to do what we choose with our money.”
As for my opinion on sports wagering, I believe this is good for sports. The potential upside that can be seen in professional sports is unimaginable. If major professional sports associations, such as the National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), and the National Football League (NFL), were to team up with online sportsbooks, the profit that could be made by not only the leagues in question, but the sportsbooks as well, would be insane.
It could also add a new way to get more people interested in the games. It will introduce an entire new crowd to sports. The act of being confident that the Chicago Bears will beat the Green Bay Packers, only adds to the dramatization of the game. Therefore making the viewers, and possible new viewers, more interested in the games. For example, this phenomenon can also be seen in fantasy football. Fantasy Football is a game where you pick players to score points for you and you beat an opposing team in the league you created. According to Nielsen Scarborough, fantasy sports participation in the U.S. increased from about 8.3 million in 2012 to 15.6 million in 2017. This is especially seen in football as the audience has increased from about 7.4 million in 2012 to 12.5 million in 2017. This means about 6.2% of the adult population has played some kind of fantasy sport in 2017. I believe sports wagering only makes this amount increase substantially in the upcoming years.
Now I do believe that sports gambling does have its flaws. I compare it a little to hitting the lottery, but with somewhat better odds. This is not a way to win money quickly or save money. Sports gambling should be used for purposes of fun and a small side hustle at most. It is not smart to buy one hundred lottery tickets, just like it is not smart to quit your job in hopes of becoming the next millionaire on sports gambling. And you must gamble safely. Make sure an addiction is not forming, and if an addiction is forming, to contact agencies such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations (SAMHSA).
As to how to find ways to bet on sports, you can go to casinos and bet at the sportsbooks in person, or you can download sportsbooks on your phone. Applications such as DraftKings Sportsbook & Casino, Fanduel Sportsbook & Casino, Barstool Sportsbook & Casino or BetMGM Sportsbook. Many of these online sportsbooks are also offering promotional deals, such as matching your initial deposit, to incentivize new audiences. So what will it be? Could you be the next millionaire based on sports gambling, or could you be the next schmuck to lose all his money?