Sports Betting Is a Booming Disaster

In a world that is becoming increasingly digital, it is not surprising that the realm of sports betting has surged to develop in that direction. With the nationwide legalization of sports betting in 2018 almost six years in the past, hundreds of betting companies like DraftKings and FanDuels have developed fast-paced, easy-to-navigate betting applications that are only an arm’s length and a few screen taps away.

The profitable and accelerating industry has generated a 10.9 billion dollar profit in 2023, a rise of almost 45 percent from 2022. Also, consider this: in 2018, just over one percent of the U.S. population had access to legal sportsbooks. Now far more than half of Americans can participate in legal sports betting. Sports betting has truly grasped a foothold within the daily lives of tens of millions of Americans.

However, with growth comes issues. The main problem with the current framework of sports betting is how fast, easy, and deceiving it is. When people participate in a digitalized form of sports betting, they play a game that significantly reduces the delay between risk and reward in comparison to in real life betting, so they end up increasing their speed and frequency of wagers. Moreover, many sports bettors believe that sports betting is becoming increasingly more controllable because they have access to a lot of information and think that their own expertise and skills can win over chance. This double whammy tends to lead to unfortunate results, with overconfident players dumping and ultimately losing money at a rapid pace.

There is also an issue with how frequent and mass-produced sports betting advertisements have become. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for an unskippable DraftKings advertisement to pop up when someone is casually enjoying YouTube videos about sports. Not only does this highlight the exposure sports betting may generate for those under the age of 21 but also how prominent and interconnected sports betting is with sports. Indeed, a vast majority of sports franchises and industries have turned from anti-gambling to near-full support of it.

These advertisements, often including sports celebrities and players, bait unsuspecting potential customers into trying “risk-free” gambling deals in the hopes that they will get addicted. Many of these deals require non-refundable deposits, and the bonuses offered only come after certain conditions have been met and are in the form of one-use credits, forcing the player to make another bet.

In addition, there are thousands of channels that claim to show you the “winning method.” While a very select, relatively lucky group of people may be able to use advanced statistical analysis and deep research to increase their chances of winning, nothing is guaranteed. In fact, an average person will more likely end up drowning in tens of thousands of dollars in debt because of gambling on sports as opposed to making a profit. Nationwide, calls to gambling hotlines have increased nearly twofold since 2018.

It is also unfortunate and disappointing that student-athletes in college and professional athletes are inevitably tied to the evil side of sports betting. Imagine a team is down six points in basketball, and a bench player sinks a three at the buzzer to pull the final gap down to three. As harmless as this three-pointer may be (that player was just trying to win), they have just ruined thousands of parleys and bets, as the opposing team was favored to win by four. Now their DMs are flooded with death threats and hateful, nasty comments.

Obviously, these cyberthreats can be seriously detrimental to the mental health of players, especially those still in college. And it is clear that sports betting encourages and has contributed to a rise in this unacceptable behavior.

Not only are players constantly harassed for performances that “sell the bag,” but they also may end up ruining their careers for betting-related reasons. A recent example of this is ex-NBA player Jontay Porter, now banned for life, for gambling on NBA games.

The general soccer community may recall a few talented soccer players who have received lengthy bans for their participation in betting. It came as a major surprise when young Italian star Sandro Tonali, along with other Italian national team players, was found guilty of betting on unauthorized websites. Now serving a year-long ban, Tonali had admitted to being addicted. He is just one known example of a professional player struggling with gambling issues.

At the end of the day, sports betting is fueled by our ever-growing interdependence with technology. Our world becomes smaller and quicker when it is held within a screen in our hands, and we feel more in control of our bets. Nevertheless, the current digitalization of sports betting can lead all sorts of people to devastating consequences that may ruin their life. The swift growth in sports betting must be seen with caution and more attention should be given to the negative aspects of sports betting delineated above.