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EDITORIAL: Supreme Court ruling to allow sports betting likely a push for Pennsylvanians
Some folks may not like to hear this, but people are going to gamble.
Legally or illegally, our neighbors who want to put down a wager will find a way to do it.
You may believe that gambling is immoral and a threat to the fabric of our society, but there’s simply no way of stopping it. As with prohibition, attempts to legislate it out of existence are doomed to failure.
That’s why, over the years, the government has jumped into the gambling business as a source of revenue.
Whether it’s taking its bite out of the money bet at horse-racing tracks or casinos or local clubs, or running its own lotteries, our public officials have already determined that it’s OK for folks to gamble — provided the government gets it share.
That’s why no one should get too lathered up about the recent 6-3 Supreme Court ruling that gave states the go-ahead to allow gambling on sports across the nation, striking down a federal law that barred betting on football, basketball, baseball and other sports in most states.
Look, we’ve already made the decision as a society that it’s OK to legally gamble. So, expanding the ways we can legally wager to include betting on games seems reasonable.
Corruption threat has always been present: The professional leagues and the NCAA don’t like it much, claiming that allowing bets on their games will open the door to point shaving and other corrupt activities that could damage the integrity of their sports.
Well, here’s a news flash: Legally or illegally, billions of dollars are bet every year on sporting activities.
The danger of corruption always has been, and always will be, a real threat. It doesn’t matter if the bet is made through a government-licensed casino or with your friendly, neighborhood bookie.
So, like it or not, legal sports gambling is coming to an outlet near you.
Pennsylvania bill: Our public officials in Pennsylvania saw this coming, and Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill last year that authorized sports books at the state’s casinos, along with mobile and online sports betting.
To be frank, however, the Pennsylvania bill seems unlikely to generate much desperately needed revenue for the cash-strapped state. The bill, as it stands, would place a 36 percent tax on gambling revenue and a $10 million licensing fee for sports book operators.
That is onerous, to say the least.
Gambling industry leaders are highly skeptical that Pennsylvania sports books can flourish economically under those kinds of financial burdens.
If the tax rate and licensing fees aren’t lowered, don’t look for many sports books to open.
Not much may change: As a result, most Pennsylvanians who want to gamble on sports events will likely continue to do it the way they’ve done it for decades — illegally.
The bottom line is this — gambling on sports events is unlikely to produce some magical revenue boom that will make the state’s financial issues disappear.
At the same time, it shouldn’t significantly worsen the betting problems that already exist in our society — such as gambling addiction and sports corruption.
Legal or illegal, the total amount of money gambled is unlikely to change all that much.
To put it in terms that every gambler will understand, the legalization of sports gambling should be a push in Pennsylvania.