Syracuse Sports Business Expert Skeptical of Efforts to Ease Sports Betting Problems

Sep 5, 2018

Sports Betting soon to come to NY casinos, then more widely, possibly at sports books like this. Can efforts to regulate prevent youth gambling, bad bets, and preserve game integrity?
Credit Brian Gyss / https://www.flickr.com/photos/bgyss/

Efforts to prevent problems in sports gambling may come up short. With it now legal, some states have gone all in on sports betting. Other states, like New York, are also close to opening up the industry in existing casinos, but could broaden to online and mobile sports betting in the future.


Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer released a proposal for a federal framework on the industry last week. In response, Syracuse University Falk College Professor of Sports Management John Wolohan says Schumer’s ideas simply set up a money grab for the leagues.

“I think what Senator Schumer is trying to do is work with the leagues, so that the leagues actually can get a piece of it [revenue]. I don’t think what he’s proposing is anything but an opportunity to get money to the leagues that they’re not getting today.”

SCHUMER'S PROPOSAL RE: YOUTH GAMBLING, ADDICTION, SPORTS INTEGRITY

Protecting young people and those suffering from gambling addiction:

  • Prohibit anyone under the age of 21 from betting.
  • Prohibit advertising targeted at young people and otherwise require responsible advertising.
  • Require that information be provided by any entity taking bets about the dangers of addiction and available resources to help encourage responsible betting.

Protecting the integrity of the game.

  • Require that any entity accepting bets share appropriate information in a timely fashion with the league or governing body of the sport in question as well as relevant state, federal, and tribal law enforcement or other appropriate oversight bodies. 
  • Require that all parties involved, including sports leagues, entities accepting bets, and state and tribal law oversight agencies where appropriate coordinate enforcement actions and notify each other of suspicious or abnormal activity or any other conduct that corrupts a betting outcome of a sporting event.
  • All leagues and sports should have effective tools to protect their own game and that includes strong limitations and prohibitions on any athlete, coach, official, team, or league representative from taking a financial stake in any wager.

Protecting consumers and individuals placing bets.

  • Require that official league data be used to determine betting outcomes.
  • Require agreement between the league or appropriate governing body and those entities taking bets on what types of bets will be permitted.
  • Provide appropriate consumer protections and requirements that deter unfair or deceptive practices, and provide safeguards against financial crimes and predatory tactics. 
  • Provide a pathway for legal online and mobile betting so that sports betting can come out of the shadows and we can further remove the competitive advantage of illegitimate online sports books. 

Schumer’s proposal to the federal government claims to vouch for athletic integrity. The Senator recognized the danger of gamblers potentially influencing athletes to shave points or even throw a game. Wolohan says it is unlikely that a professional would risk his valuable career on a spread, but sees the appeal for amateur athletes.

“They’re not making any money. Basically, what they got is a scholarship that doesn't really buy them dinner on a Saturday night. If I went to one of those students and said listen: ‘For $5,000 or $10,000, can you keep the game under a particular spread?’ I can see where the potential problems lie there.”

Schumer also believes that official league data must be used to determine betting outcomes in order to protect betters from the dangers of an ill-advised wager. Wolohan sees this clause as Schumer’s way of funneling money to the leagues, compensation for their “intellectual property”.

“What the leagues are trying to do now is come up with another argument, and that is: you need to use our data. If all the sudden the only way you can get the information is the league source, then you have to pay for that, and that’s money in the pocket of the owners, it’s money in the pocket for the leagues. That’s all it is.”

Sports Gambling in NY likely to start in the four commercial casinos:

However, percentages of gambling revenues will stream into New York's and other state economies as well. The Division of Gaming Enforcement reported that New Jersey, for example, generated $3.5 million in revenue just in the first 16 days of statewide legal sports gambling.

New York State estimates that sports gambling could bring in $340 Million in revenue annually to begin, growing to more than half-a-billion dollars in five years.