It took years for American sports bets to escape the confines of Las Vegas, but they are making the most of things now. For a long time, bettors in the United Kingdom watched in bewildered amusement as US authorities insisted on keeping sports wagers illegal in most of the country. But no one is laughing now.
In just four short years since the Supreme Court decision that opened the door for the regulation of American sports bets everywhere, there are now 36 states which regulate the activity. What’s more is that in four more years the US sports gambling market is expected to be the largest in the world, worth over $24 billion. That’s all is fine and well… until it isn’t.
Those of us who remember the online poker rush of the early 2000’s will recall a flurry of commercials, sponsorship deals, and celebrity endorsements. A flurry very similar to what we are seeing now for American sports bets, albeit in a different circumstance. But where online poker was being promoted in a legal grey area, sports betting is clearly legal in those places where the ads are running. And yet, it does feel as if history will repeat itself in some form.
Part of this feeling of dread comes from watching the melodrama of sports betting in Britain as it unfolds. In a country that allowed gambling advertising everywhere, from taxi cabs to the shirts of soccer players, there was a slow but deliberate groundswell against how prolific those ads became. There was a backlash that built in response to seeing these promotions every time a person turned around.
The ant-gambling establishment in the UK was able to use those aggressive advertising campaigns and tactics against the industry itself. Pushing the dangers of those ads being seen by children and addicts. Claiming that sponsorship deals send the wrong message. Warning that endorsements encourage behavior that can lead to problem gambling. And while there may be some truth to each of those arguments, they tend to leave out some facts.
One such fact is that true gambling addiction accounts for less than 1% of the total population, with less that 3% having some form of mild issues with betting. Or to put this is a way even gambling opponents can understand, over 99% of the population does not have a problem with gambling. But the segment of society that doesn’t like gambling will not care about that. Nor will it stop them from trying to punish the 99% of the population placing without any issues.
So, take this warning for a grain of salt if you like. Or, you might agree with every word written here. It really doesn’t matter. The gambling companies will continue to advertise American sports bets in every conceivable way possible, and they will push the boundaries of common since beyond what is reasonable. Eventually, the backlash will come. The operators just hope they will have the most market share when it does.