What the U.S. Can Learn About Legalized Sports Betting from the U.K.

The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to declare a 26-year-old antisports gambling law unconstitutional opens up the possibility that states can decide for themselves whether to allow sports betting. At the moment, as many as 30 states allow gambling in some form, from state lotteries to casinos to online gaming. If much of the U.S. decides to allow sports betting, the way sports betting is marketed may look a lot like sports gambling in the United Kingdom.

The Availability of Sports Betting

In the United Kingdom, betting on sports is as easy as shopping for groceries. Betting shops are available in nearly every community in the nation. British bettors can bet at the same stadium where they watch live sporting events, such as rugby and football. Stadiums are allowed to have gaming companies’ advertisements on their exteriors and interiors without an issue.

The United States and the United Kingdom both have large sections of their populations with money to burn, and that is the population gaming companies want to target – middle-class citizens with disposable income.

The United Kingdom has many betting shops with friendly interiors, free cups of tea, comfortable surroundings, and workers who are known in the community. For many U.K. neighborhoods, the betting shops are the bars or pubs in the community for middle-aged men. Researchers have noted that these men go to the betting shops to socialize, even though no alcohol is involved.

It is not just the middle-aged men who are involved with betting. For many retirees, betting shops are also their social outing for the day. They are a place where they can interact with others. In fact, British shops make it a point to know the comings and goings of their patrons and ask about their families and establish relationships with the people who frequent their shops.

It Will Be Harder to Fix Games

The whole reason the U.S. outlawed sports betting was because of the Black Sox Scandal of 1919. Eight members of the Chicago White Sox were paid to lose the World Series, which led to them being blacklisted from ever playing professional baseball or becoming a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Even though not all the players were involved, and the participation of some players is in dispute, the scandal left a large black mark on the game that has not faded.

In the U.K., the taint of scandal has not been a part of any game since sports gambling was legalized in 1961. Legalized gambling helped to get rid of fixing games because it raised player salaries to the point they did not need to gamble to make a lot of money. When the emphasis on additional money was removed, the amount of sports fixing became nearly nonexistent.

However, the U.K. government continues to monitor sports games to ensure they are scandal-free, with positions paid for in part by the tax revenues from sports betting. It is a safe bet that organized crime will look for someplace more unregulated to fix games, such as Asia or the Caribbean.

The legalization of sports betting in the United States will be a little more complicated than in the United Kingdom because of the sheer size of the country and the divisions of government. Some states, especially in the Southeast, do not appear to be poised to allow sports betting at this time. But, there is no denying that sports betting is profitable for the gaming companies that profit from gambling, the state that will profit from revenue, and the players who are able to gamble and enjoy their winnings.

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Richard Holmes was born in Tampa, Florida and studied computer science at Pensacola Christian College in Pensacola Florida. A devout Baptist, volunteer Sunday School teacher and online gaming fan, Richard works as a part-time systems administrator at Baptist Hospital and part-time professional blogger specializing in statistics, probability and computer science issues. He is an ardent believer in the future of artificial intelligence as a tool for transforming human society for the better, particularly in the area of health care and modern medicine. A chess player, and competitive online gamer Richard actively participates on online gaming tournaments in his free time.