The price of gambling

Jake Mireles, Staff Writer

In America, football is a way of life, and it is one of the most profitable industries in the nation. From 2020 to 2021, the National Football League (NFL) had a record increase in profits, raking in $11 billion for the 2021 season, according to Sportico. The league has never had much trouble with sponsorships and brand deals. In the past decade, the NFL has become exponentially more profitable due to the incorporation of a recently legalized revenue stream: sports betting. Despite their adamant opposition to the legalization of sports betting, the NFL has decided to embrace it with open arms. This begs the question: Is this move beneficial for the league, its players and their fans?

Gambling in sports has been a hot topic for decades. In the past, it was heavily criticized because many thought it hurt the integrity of sports. The fear that coaches, players or referees might use their position and access to sports gambling to fix matches for their personal gain was too high for many sports leagues to condone and promote the industry. The NFL was the most outspoken against sports betting out of all the major sports leagues. The league has a history of being swift in punishing members who were discovered to be betting on league games or even remotely close to the sports gambling industry. One example is when the league canceled a fantasy football convention hosted by former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, citing the league’s stance on events at casinos.

A turning point for the NFL came in 2018 when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law banning sports betting, prompting over 30 states to legalize the industry. The Major League Baseball, National Hockey League and National Basketball Associations quickly capitalized, signing promotional deals with sports gambling companies. The NFL soon followed suit. Combined with the platforming of sports gambling on smartphones, this has caused the already successful industry to explode in popularity. Now sports gambling is characterized as a way to promote fan engagement, and you cannot escape the DraftKings and FanDuel commercials during Sunday Night Football. While it is evident that sports betting is likely here to stay, it is important to recognize the dangers of platforming gambling to this degree.

Gambling is an addictive vice, plain and simple. However, unlike other addictive habits, it can manifest inside your pocket with the press of a button. With this new widespread access to these platforms, there will come an increase in the number of problem gamblers. While these platforms have terms of service and features that promote responsible gambling, they do not have rules to limit how much one can lose, only how much one can gain. Gambling may be a fun way to be invested in your favorite team’s game, but it can also very easily cause great amounts of loss and pain. With the rise of betting in professional sports, there needs to be a rise in awareness of responsible gambling.