By now you are likely aware of the ripples cascading through the sports world with yesterday’s Supreme Court decision to overturn the case that made sports gambling illegal anywhere other than Las Vegas. Like most court rulings, it’s not as simplistic as a ten word recap, but at its most basic form, it has removed the impediment that made gambling on sports illegal. It has not made it legal per se, but it has basically paved the way for individual states to legalize it on their own terms without pesky federal law getting in the way.
You can read a brief little overview of the nuts and bolts of the case and its outcome here. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Welcome back. Now, what will likely happen are states will fall in one of camps. The first camp will be the ones who quickly pivot to make it legal in their state. That is where the majority of the additional revenue will land. Like taking products to market the quickest ones are the ones who profit the most. Look at marijuana legalization. Rinse and repeat.
The second camp is the camp that will eventually legalize it after much wrangling and hand-wringing. Those states will see a modest boost of revenue but nothing of significance and opponents of the policy will have more than enough ammo to feed their need of acting like it was wasted legislation and folly.
The third camp is where we’ll be residing today. That’s the camp like my home state of Kentucky, populated by people who let personal religious beliefs or overall morality be the driving force behind their political action and policy barometer. Now, on the surface, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Everyone has to have some kind of metric or measure for their beliefs and actions and I’m usually not one to criticize whatever that may be.
My main criticism now is that politicians and puritans alike look at sports gambling as some seedy dark underbelly poised to take down a society that is just peachy as it is. Newsflash: it isn’t. And further newsflash: it won’t.
Governor Matt Bevin spoke yesterday about sports gambling (and other things) with the overarching tone of the morality behind it and its regressive nature to prey on those who can least afford it as a justification of why his legislative agenda has no place for casino gaming or now sports wagering. For those that don’t know, like many other states, Kentucky is struggling with revenue lines and has a significant budget and pension problem. To turn your back on a potential income stream is surprising, but to justify it by being a hypocrite is even more so. It would be disappointing if it wasn’t so sad.
I’m not one to argue the potential for problems with gambling. People struggle with gambling addiction and it ruins more lives than it saves, I’m sure. But doesn’t alcohol? How about tobacco? So coming from a governor that runs a state known for bourbon and cigarettes, that morality argument seems to be a little weak in the knees.
Moreover, it isn’t like the state of Kentucky isn’t already in the gambling business. Twice a week you can go down to your local gas station and play the Powerball. Two other days you can play the MegaMillions. You can buy scratch off lottery tickets 24/7 365 in any retailer. Ten days ago the eyes of the sports world were on Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby. There’s an online app that lets you bet whatever and however you want from wherever you are. Think a silly horse race isn’t worth getting in a twist over? Think again. The handle from the day was over $225 million. See my point?
The issue isn’t gambling, it’s consistency. It’s akin to legalizing cocaine but not heroin because heroin kills people. YOU MAKE NO SENSE, GOVERNMENT. Now, if the state came out and did away with all of it, then they can not legalize sports gaming all they want. I’d vehemently disagree and think that they had no business protecting me from myself, but I’d at least respect their universal metric. Under the current system where state governments are going to cherry pick what’s “right” or “dangerous”, it’s laughable. Watch closely and let the hypocrisy flow through you.