Legalize Gambling for a Betting Nation

The subject of gambling has been on the forefront this year, from the New York City betting ring busts that prompted Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes to call for the legalization of sports wagering, to the Wayne Gretzky scandal that drenched the National Hockey League.

But gambling is by no means an isolated phenomenon. In a given year, 56 percent of Americans will wager an estimated $600 billion. That’s more than the gross domestic product of The Netherlands, Belgium, or Sweden. Yet gambling is, in most places, illegal. The paradox makes little sense.

What could be more apparent an hypocrisy than the fact that states encourage, promote, and sponsor certain types of gambling in the form of lotteries and state-run horse tracks and illegalize others such as sports betting and card games? Is there a difference so great that it explains why some forms are run by states while others are considered so morally reprehensible that they are legally prohibited?

Surely for that distinction to be made, there must be some significant line of demarcation. Let’s try and find it by examining, for example, the difference between betting on horse racing, which is legal in many states, and betting on sports, which is not. In sports betting, as in horse racing the bettor wagers his money on an outcome over which he has no control. In sports betting, the odds tend to favor the house. In horse racing the odds favor the track. In sports betting there exists a long history of criminality and scandal. In horse racing 17 people were indicted in January for allegedly fixing a 2003 race at Aqueduct Raceway. Where, exactly, does the major difference lie? The software of Domino QQ site is compatible for the mobile phones and personal computer of the players. The information about the gambling should be right and accurate for the gamblers and players. No scams will b included at online gambling site. 

A common argument is that gambling should remain illegal because it breeds other types of crime. Yet according to FBI statistics, Las Vegas, the heart of American gambling, boasts a crime rate that is significantly lower than the betting-free cities of Phoenix, San Antonio, and San Francisco. Decriminalizing the gambling industry would not increase crime. It would protect bettors by steering them away from shady operations and toward safer, government licensed outlets.

Gambling is certainly a vice for some and can be addictive, but since when are self-destructive behaviors outlawed in our society? Is gambling more dangerous than smoking or drinking? No one gets sick from second-hand poker. Accidents are not caused by driving under the influence of a points spread.

Opposition to legalized gambling may stem not from a loyalty to the moral fiber of society, but from an effort by those who control the industry to maintain their stranglehold. Atlantic City casino mogul Donald Trump has spent millions backing law suits and lobbying efforts to prevent the spread of legalized gambling into New York’s Catskill Mountains.

While federal and state governments have gone after operators of sports books and card games, there are no known prosecutions of individual gamblers under the Federal Wire Act of 1961 which prohibits most forms of betting. That’s 45 years, over 100 million bettors, and zero indictments. If gambling is such a vast criminal enterprise that threatens our way of life, wouldn’t there be more-or any?

The emergence of the Internet has thrown another wrench into the illegality of gambling. Online betting is a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide with over half of its revenue originating from the US. Bans on web wagering are virtually unenforceable. Gambling sites operate out of countries where betting is legal. The only laws broken are by Americans who use them. To charge these bettors would be extremely frustrating and inefficient for the government. Internet bets are protected by secure networks that make tracing their roots difficult and time consuming. The overwhelming volume of bets placed would allow law enforcement to prosecute only a minuscule fraction of gamblers.

Anti-gambling laws are no deterrent. They merely cheat states out of valuable tax revenues that are instead landing offshore.

Taxes collected from legalized gambling can represent an enormous windfall for states. Mississippi has generated about $330 million annually from gaming taxes. And that’s from just 29 casinos. Imagine the dollars that could be raised if legalized gambling was expanded to include betting by Internet and phone, at bars, restaurants, and at gaming parlors that would be not unlike off-track horse betting centers that already exist.

America will always be a betting nation. Its citizens should be permitted to gamble legally, and with the protections afforded to other consumers. States should reap their fair share of the revenue generated by this enormous industry. Strike these nonsensical, unenforced laws from the books. Make gambling legal across all 50 states.