Wager Me This...
by Caden K.
Historically, sports betting has been frowned upon by states and institutions for causing addiction and financial ruin amongst families and friends. The excitement of placing a bet on a big game, the thrill of a supreme payout, and the defeat of a serious loss all come together to embody what appears to be a vicious cycle that states have done their best to stay away from. However, with the involvement of state governments across the nation, legalizing such a deceivingly corrupt pastime could be the secret to making it a source of great wealth and entertainment in the United States, and I'd bet everything that it'll do just that.
Since its legalization in May of 2018, sports betting has only been climbing in popularity. According to a Morning Consultant survey, the number of adults, aged 21 and older, placing sports bets “at least weekly” more than doubled from January to December of 2021, jumping from five percent to twelve percent. One of the more shocking aspects of this statistic is that it’s not the middle aged adults who have been waiting to bet freely on their favorite games for years, but rather the younger generation of adults that seem to make up the sports betting market. The Morning Consultant’s survey also found that Thirty-one percent of respondents ages 35-44 said they bet on sports “at least monthly,” along with 28 percent of those ages 21-34.
Why is it that the younger generation wishes to get so heavily involved in the sports betting industry? Most of the time, it comes down to debt. With so many young adults exiting college with debt and a lack of decent paying jobs, young adults have enjoyed testing their luck in guessing the statistics, timing, and overall outcomes of their favorite sporting events in hopes of bringing home some extra cash. According to data from the “New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel and Equifax,” Americans aged 18-29 years old “owe $1.05 trillion in debt.” The debt is composed “mostly of student loans,” but also loans and basic consumer debts. With so much economic struggle, sports betting can be a simple outlet for young people to climb out of debt and find lucky breaks that can seem, to those struggling, as economic saviors. However, these monetary lifesavers can’t function properly without proper administration.
One of the busiest states in terms of sports betting is New Jersey, which recently crossed the “$1 billion mark” in September. After being one of the first states to legalize sports betting in the United States, New Jersey has seen prosperous economic growth and most of the money earned from each gamble ends up back in the hands of the fortuitous gambler. According to Global Sports Matters, “only about $82 million [of the $1 billion] was kept by sports betting operators as net revenue,” not including particular state taxes, which implies that the act of sports betting leaves the majority of the cash with the lucky gambler, allowing for higher odds of individual economic success. This money can then be used by the bettor to feed more into the overall state and national economy, creating a beneficial cycle for the entire nation. State government’s legalization of sports betting can also deter gamblers from underground, illegal activities that formerly served as sources of betting incomes. Eager high rollers will turn their eyes away from illegal betting and focus on the legal aspects of the thrilling endeavor of sports wagering, which clearly can yield a higher amount of money to be made.
Individual state’s woes and quarrels with betting as a whole are understandable, but the amount of personal benefits and overall economic growth outweigh whatever obstacles legal sports gambling can create. I’d gamble to say that legalized sports betting would create an even greater uptick in the state's economic revenue. The grand amount of entertainment and success that can flood over the younger generation of adults in America seems like a worthy cause to bet everything on, and it’s time all state governments take that risk.
Silverman, Alex. “2021 Was a Banner Year for Sports Betting Participation.” Morning Consult, Morning Consultant, 18 Jan. 2022, https://morningconsult.com/2022/01/18/sports-betting-trends/.
Friedman, Zack. “Young Americans Owe $1 Trillion of Debt.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 15 Dec. 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2019/02/27/young-americans-owe-1-trillion-of-debt/?sh=2372b3778adf.
Parry, Wayne. “New Jersey Has Its First $1 Billion Month in Sports Betting.” ABC News, ABC News Network, 18 Oct. 2021, https://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory/jersey-billion-month-sports-betting-80648292.
deMause, Neil. “Where Tax Money from Legal Sports Betting Goes.” Global Sport Matters, Global Sports Matters, 11 Jan. 2022, https://globalsportmatters.com/business/2022/01/11/tax-money-legal-sports-betting-may-not-be-windfall-states-expecting/#:~:text=That%20figure%2C%20however%2C%20represents%20bets,betting%20operators%20as%20net%20revenue.