Sports Gambling

The nation’s highest court may have opened Pandora’s box last week by allowing legalized sports betting.

For many years, federal and state laws strictly prohibited betting on sporting events, except in Nevada. The ruling means states like South Carolina must now struggle with the moral debate about gambling, long considered a vice in the Bible Belt.

I must admit to being somewhat conflicted by the prospect of allowing people to bet on sporting events.

In my younger days, I enjoyed visiting a local pool hall to bet on college football. I would drop a few bucks on a “parlay” card and then wait excitedly for the weekend’s game results. I rarely won, but it was fun to have a stake in the action.

I also enjoy betting on the few occasions I have gone to horse races. And, I know many people who like to bet on the March NCAA basketball brackets.

On the other hand, gambling has destroyed many lives. Making betting mainstream will hurt families and exact a toll on society.

All four major U.S. professional sports leagues and the NCAA urged the court to uphold the federal law, saying a gambling expansion would hurt the integrity of their games.

They also said that with legal sports betting in the United States, they'd have to spend a lot more money monitoring betting patterns and investigating suspicious activity.

The majority of the U.S. Supreme Court took the position that the issue of sports betting should be left up to the states.

Experts predict at least 32 states will soon get into the sports betting business, valued at $150 billion annually.

The court’s ruling means that people that live in states that allow betting on sports will be able to gamble on college and professional sports, horse racing, golf, combat sports and online activities such as fantasy leagues.

How will South Carolina go? That’s literally a million-dollar question. I suspect rural parts of the state will adamantly oppose sports betting.

But in tourist areas like Myrtle Beach, the opportunity to bet on sports could give birth to a whole new industry.

Myrtle Beach used to have a horse track. Did you know that?

I wonder if legalized betting on horse racing might spark interest in a new track?

Because betting on sports has many pros and cons, I do not think the issue should be decided by the S.C. General Assembly.

I think the people of South Carolina should be allowed to weigh in on the matter first.

I would like to see the decision on sports betting in South Carolina put on a referendum and decided by the voters.


Steve Robertson is owner and publisher of the Waccamaw Publishers family of community newspapers

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