By Roger Grossman
News Now Warsaw
I am not at all a person who says “I told you so” much.
It’s very pretentious and it’s just not my style.
But if you read this column regularly, I told you this storm was coming and now there is lightning all around us and it’s too late to take shelter.
News came out this week that the University of Iowa is investigating 26 athletes across five teams who are suspected of wagering on sports. That’s a violation of NCAA rules, and more than 100 people have been linked to the investigation.
Iowa State acknowledged that more than a dozen of its athletes across three teams are also suspected of violating gambling rules.
Last week, Alabama fired baseball coach Brad Bohannon following a report of suspicious bets made at an Ohio casino involving his team.
NCAA rules prohibit athletes, coaches and staff from betting on amateur, collegiate and professional sports in which the NCAA conducts a championship.
You should also remember that drinking alcohol is also illegal for people under 21 years old, but that never stopped a single college kid from filling a red Solo cup, did it?
Along with the ads promoting gambling, you are now seeing and hearing more and more ads for gambling hotlines telling sports fans “If you have a problem and need help, call (this number).”
You are starting to see and hear people bemoan sports gambling and its impact on America.
DUH! What did you think was going to happen?
Was there any other foreseeable outcome?
No … this was inevitable.
According to an industry report, Americans have bet over $220 billion on sports with now-legal gambling outlets in the five years since the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for all 50 states to offer it.
Five years ago Sunday is the anniversary of the court ruling that approved New Jersey for legalized sports wagering, and now two-thirds of the country will offer legal sports betting, with additional states likely to join in the coming months.
The CEO of DraftKings, whose company controls almost half of the sports gambling market, says his operation and others like it are nowhere near tapping its full money-making potential.
Sports leagues are wrapping their arms around it. They are in partnership with gambling agents…for a cut of the take, of course.
Professional teams, like my beloved Cubs, are building betting windows inside and on the properties around stadiums.
Sports media outlets are devoting whole segments to betting lines and strategies for “beating the book.” Every sports radio station in medium and large markets have experts on staff and weekend shows devoted to helping people make better betting choices.
Of course, there are horse racing tracks around the country that went from teetering on the brink of closure to flourishing because of the new freedom in betting at their facilities.
And the federal government and individual states are thrilled to be getting massive tax revenue from sources they didn’t have to woo to move there or build infrastructure to support.
But at what cost?
These companies are literally “hooking” their prey with deals like “spend five dollars on who is going to win the Super Bowl, and even if your team loses will put $100 in your account.”
Sounds like a no-lose deal, but you can’t cash that out—obviously. That’s money put into your account, and you have to use it to make wagers over the next week or so or you lose it.
So that one bet now becomes at least two bets (probably more), and when that money runs out … then what?
Consider this: we are appalled at pharmaceutical companies who created drugs that help us manage pain after surgeries that were so strong that when the prescription runs out, we can’t stop craving them.
What these gambling operations are doing is prescribing Americans just enough “free” money in their accounts to drag them down into an abyss they can’t climb back out of.
And now no one can stop it. That horse has run out of the barn and is running down the road, and there is no point in closing the barn door.
But the good news is at least now you can find a site that will let you bet on that horse somewhere.
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Roger Grossman has been covering local sports in Kosciusko County for more than 30 years and is employed with News Now Warsaw. You can reach him at email@example.com.