The End Of PASPA Will Not Be The End Of Society
Listen up, snowflakes: The end of PASPA will not be the end of society. Seriously.
I’ve been reading around the more “conservative” message boards and “news” outlets in the wake of the Supreme Court’s overturn of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, and I am shocked (shocked, I tell you!) that so many people seem to believe that legalized sports betting – as opposed to rampant black market and gray market sports betting, apparently – signals some sort of apocalyptic decay from which the country will simply never recover without Noah’s Ark II: Gale Force Sins. It might seem baffling, but only until you realize just how repressed and uninformed so many of these clowns seem to be.
Your Repressing Is Depressing
First, the repression: The repression comes from the idea that morality – their morality, not yours (whoever “they” may be, in this case the “betting is immoral” set who have somehow never taken a financial risk of any kind in their entire lives) – should be a legally-binding social contract (itself a nonsensical concept), and that various voluntary, consensual actions like drinking, smoking, doing drugs, prostitution, and gambling are “vices” that need to be eradicated from the populace at any cost.
Of course, these “vices” are all among the oldest forms of industry in human history, and nearly all societies – even that of the “great American experiment” – grew up on the backs of these activities. If moral decay in the form of the above foretells the end of society now, how is it that these belled the birth of society back then?
See, morality is a tricky thing for most folks (even though it’s actually the simplest thing in the world), and with the subject of legalized sports betting in the US hitting a fever pitch now that PASPA is kaput, you can expect to hear every angle there is about how such a terrible sin will bankrupt the country and corrupt the children and so on (and on and on).
Here’s a good way to frame whether or not something is immoral: Is there a victim? Answer this question logically and unemotionally, and you will likely arrive at the conclusion that no, there is no victim when it comes to legal sports betting (or any of the other core “vices” mentioned above, for that matter). However, the common argument against this notion is two-pronged, and it’s been the dominant rallying cry among the holier-than-thou set so far:
Prong One: Nonsense
Prong one goes something like this: Would you please (please!) think of the children? What happens when mommy and daddy spend all their food and diaper and school supply money on sports betting?
Well, no, I will not think of the children. At least, I won’t think of your children. That’s your job. Teach them not to blow their allowance on things they don’t understand instead of passing that control and responsibility onto a malicious, inept third party. Look, everyone agrees that struggling kids living in poverty is a shitty thing. But parents have to be free to parent – and even to fail spectacularly at it sometimes – because that’s how raising families works. Plus, you know, there are already governmental agencies out there that deal specifically with neglected children. Nothing about PASPA’s overturn changes that.
Prong Two: More Nonsense
Prong two is similar to prong one, and you’ll hear people say this tripe about every issue under the sun: People must be protected from addiction for the good of society, because society bears the burdens of their addictions.
What are you, some kind of red commie puke? Even if the above were true (and it isn’t), maybe try advocating for fixing the second part (which is achievable) instead of the first part (which is not). Legislating morality is a non-starter. It’s never worked, and it never will. If you’re worried about your neighbor being a burden on your bottom line, the system that allows that is not of your neighbor’s making. Don’t throw the baby out with the greased pockets of toxic sludge.
We Are All Victims!
Another form of the above emotive nonsense sees the world’s most perfect family folks arguing that an individual’s vices – specifically their negative addictions to those vices – victimize their friends and family members. But here’s the thing: Your actions – like, say, legally betting on sports because the Browns can’t possibly cover Sunday’s spread – may indeed have an emotional effect on people close to you. But that’s true of every action you take, and it’s the cost of having friends and family. You are not obligated to not do the things you want to do because it might make someone else sorry for you. Your actions might warrant praise, shame, sympathy, or indifference from others, but those feelings (or the feels, as they’re called in popular memery) are theirs to address and overcome.
The Economic Reality Of Legalized Sports Betting
Now for the second part of this premise: The economic reality of legalized sports betting. Most of these “high-moral” dolts really don’t understand the scope of sports betting or even the basic tenets of grade-school economics. Here are the numbers: US residents spend an estimated $300-500 billion wagering on sports every year on the black and gray markets. Yes, that estimate has a broad range. But take the low or take the high, and the upshot remains the same: In either case, that’s a tremendous amount of money that isn’t being taxed as it would under regulated conditions.
Black market transactions are all cash – your illegal bookie doesn’t take credit cards, (and the interest on his private credit plan is your kneecaps). This money is untaxed on the betting side, and it’s further untaxed on the income side. All that money simply never happened.
As for those who use offshore sportsbooks (which remain perfectly legal and have been operating reliably and honestly for over 20 years in many cases), the spending goes overseas, and though most of it comes back, between 10-15% of it (in the form of house takes and transaction fees) never does. Instead, these billions of dollars dramatically boost the economies of other countries while reducing the cash that America has to work with.
Now consider the money that does come back: Most savvy bettors are no longer getting paid out in checks or money orders – they’re using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and other altcoins, as supported (and overwhelmingly encouraged) by their sportsbooks of choice. That money either goes back overseas to place more wagers, or it sits in the crypto exchanges (which are also overseas) to appreciate while fiat money stateside loses its volume and its value day after day.
With legalized, regulated sports betting (as odious as regulations of any kind are, this is the price that must be paid to decriminalize the activity, because creepy old Uncle Sam is getting his, you bet your ass), the goal is get as many of those currently-outgoing hundreds of billions of dollars to stay in the US as possible. Each state that implements its own sports betting laws will tax the activity on both sides of the transaction as they do today with commercial gambling in their area casinos, and – even discounting the impact of monies that stay in your state’s local economy – just the taxation windfall for your local government should amount to hundreds of millions of dollars per year in most larger states and many tens of millions each year in smaller, less populated regions. Remember: This is money that is getting spent already, except the local and national economies of the US are getting none of the benefits of that industrial action. Keep the bulk of that money inside US borders, and everyone wins.
But what of the gambling addict? While I personally don’t care about him or her, I will simply point out the following bit of amusing truth: The gambling addict – in this case – also wins. Why? Because compared to other forms of state-supported gambling (casinos, bingo halls, poker rooms, lotteries, etc.), sports betting is monetarily the safest type of wagering activity there is.
In other words, you – as an average sports bettor – will make more money (or lose less money) over your gambling career than average players of those other gambling amusements. If mommy and daddy want to gamble, they’re going to gamble. For their children’s sakes, hopefully they gamble on sports instead of scratch-offs or slots or cards or craps.
Before PASPA was overturned, literally the safest, highest-ROI form of gambling was federally illegal in 49 US states. Now it isn’t. If you have a moral problem with that, fine. I’m not out to change your mind. But I’ll pass along some very good news to you (if I can reach your delicate hand from all the way down here): You don’t have to bet on sports at legal betting sites if you don’t want to!
But I do. And I’m glad that now, my money will stay more or less where I spend it.
Dubs in six.
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