The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Sports Betting in America Has Spun Out of Control

AP Photo / Arvin Temkar
NATIONAL PROBLEM: Legislators in Georgia are the latest to propose an amendment that would allow sports betting in the state.

Sports gambling is the new wave of addiction taking over America’s youth. A comprehensive survey released by the NCAA last spring found that from a sample size of 3,500 students ages 18-22, around 60 percent of them bet on sports during the past year, and four percent of them were daily gamblers. Furthermore, the study found that six percent of those surveyed had lost more than $500 betting on sports in a single day.

You don’t really need statistics to know that sports betting is a problem among America’s college-age youth. The gambling craze is so out of control that the problem is tangible. Sports betting has become so widespread that its normalization has flown under the radar of most people. And that is where the problem lies.

It’s important to clarify, first, that there isn’t anything inherently wrong with the practice of sports betting. It has been around in this country for over a century, and there is a well-established legal framework encapsulating it. The big problem is with mobile sports betting technology. 

Online betting platforms have created a paradigm shift in how people can gamble, and the legal system has not yet caught up. The results are the problematic gambling environment that exists today. Mobile sports betting is, essentially, the Wild West. The financials of companies like Fanduel, DraftKings and BetMGM tell the story: all have seen their profits grow exponentially since the Supreme Court’s Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association ruling in 2018, which struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). That decision essentially put the power to legalize sports betting into the hands of state governments rather than the federal government.

Flutter Entertainment, the parent company of Fanduel — which is the current top dog among sportsbooks in the U.S. — saw its year-over-year revenue increase by 11 percent, comparing its Q4 earnings from this year to the previous one. The company took in 2.8 billion dollars of total revenue as of Dec. 31, 2023, which was bolstered by Fanduel’s rapid growth; the betting site made up 35 percent of Flutter’s total revenue on the year.

Since the 2018 Supreme Court decision, 38 states have legalized sports betting, and the number is unlikely to decrease, so long as the money printer keeps rolling. From a regulatory standpoint, there is a massive conflict of interest between the financial incentives of keeping sports betting legal and the social and mental health incentives of cracking down on it. So far, the trend has been towards the former.

Adding to health concerns, gambling is becoming a younger and younger hobby by the year. Sites make it easier than ever to indirectly bypass legal restrictions for gambling through password sharing and other means. Mobile gambling platforms also make it easy to place bet after bet in a way that doesn’t feel the same as in-person betting. The process is gamified. It is a lot easier to be detached from the fact that you just threw away $200 when you’re looking at your balance through a phone screen rather than your actual wallet.

At this point, there is no use in trying to prevent the tidal wave of sports gambling from washing over college-age kids in America. It already hit the beaches five years ago. It is up to state legislators to decide where to draw the lines when it comes to sports betting within their borders, and it is certainly one of the hot-button issues within various legal committees and subcommittees around the nation right now.

What requires urgent attention, though, is the lack of awareness surrounding the real dangers of gambling. In moderation, there isn’t really a problem with it, but the real concern is that ‘moderation’ and ‘gambling’ are pretty much mutually exclusive. And it’s even harder to moderate yourself on a gambling app than it is to do so at an in-person sportsbook. If nothing else, state legislatures need to do a better job of educating young people about what a gambling disorder looks like. It’s a problem that can only be stopped by taking a deeper look at its roots.

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About the Contributor
Richie Rosen, Assistant Sports Editor
Richie Rosen is a sophomore from Los Angeles, CA concentrating on economics with a minor in political science. He has previously served as a staff writer for the Commentary, Baker's Dozen, and Sports sections. On campus, Richie is involved in the Colgate Investment Club, the Ski Club, and a greek letter organization. 

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    John RMar 8, 2024 at 2:04 pm

    The online betting, is too easy to access, and utilize. I don’t know the solution, but the risk of addiction, is many times greater, than either betting on the phone, or in a ” brick and mortar “, sportsbook. The new technology, is the culprit here, and some kind of remedy ( I am from the ” old school”), needs to be implemented.