There have been numerous attempts in recent years to legalize sports gambling. Legislators in 30 states now permit sports betting in person and online. About 30 percent of Americans can legally bet on the Super Bowl. The upcoming California election will decide whether to legalize sports gambling. Many say sports gambling is now mainstream and is a pillar of American entertainment. However, some question this notion. Tim Fong, director of the gambling studies program at U.C.L.A., says that there are more questions than answers when it comes to sports gambling.
Many suspect that college officials may be involved in sports betting. In a University of Michigan study from March 2000, 84% of college referees admitted to gambling at some point in their careers. Twenty percent bet on college basketball tournaments and 20 percent on sports games. Of these officials, two even admitted that published point spreads influenced their officiating decisions. In short, the problem is that sports betting scandals don’t happen overnight. The industry has to be proactive in finding ways to stop the practice before it reaches epidemic proportions.
In the 1950s, the federal government cracked down on organized crime, driving mobsters out of the Nevada casino business. Meanwhile, organized crime retained its grip on the illegal bookmaking industry. However, law enforcement officials now acknowledge the existence of many independent bookies across the country. While the numbers of people gambling on sports events may seem small, they’re still a huge source of revenue for professional and amateur athletes. Regardless of the legalities of sports gambling, it’s important to remember that the vast majority of sports betting is illegal.