From the 1919 Chicago Black Sox to Tim Donaghy in 2007, sports gambling scandals have persisted throughout the years. Scandals like the aforementioned are always brought to light when trying to keep sports gambling illegal, however I do not think that they help the case necessarily. The constant theme between these two sports wagering scandals in particular is one thing: these players and referee were making nearly no money.
In today’s day and age, where sports are a billion dollar industry in the United States, it makes no sense why there should not be a push to legalize sports betting. The 1919 Chicago Black Sox were making between $37,000 to $74,000 annually in 2009 USD, whereas the average MLB player in 2009 was making $3 Million USD. Considering the low wages that the Chicago Black Sox-keep in mind they were found not guilty of all charges by a jury- were making it makes much more sense why they would be found throwing a game; they needed the money.
Lastly, there is Tim Donaghy. Tim Donaghy was an NBA official for thirteen years before he admitted to being involved in a sports betting scandal in 2007 that shocked the basketball world. The average NBA official makes roughly $150,000 a year. Now this is a staggering amount of money, but when you have cry-babies like Lebron James in your ear half of the games that you officiate, while he is making $30 million a year, you could be looking for other avenues to get a pay raise.
I mention these statistics because it can make sense why these three different scandals may have happened. In these three situations, these three people may have felt pressure to take the money because they felt they deserved it as they werent getting paid enough. The Chicago Black Sox scandal speaks for itself, as baseball was not the sport that it was even in the 1970’s and it was hard for them to make money, so they were going to take a little extra where they could. Additionally, Tim Donaghy was seeing all of the players he was officiating, and making chump change compared to what the players were, and felt his job rivaled theirs in difficulty, so he was looking for some extra money.
Legalized sports gambling could help to take care of these problems. Most of the time when someone knows that there is a points shaving scandal out there, it is in the best interest of illegal book makers to spot it. However, they cannot inform the authorities because obviously what they were doing is illegal. That would be like trying to tell the cops you drug dealer did not in fact sell you marijuanna, but instead it was oregano. If it were legal, point shaving scandals could be pointed out much easier, and it could help in making the game much more honest, especially in situations where the players are making astronomical amounts of money in the big four American sports (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL).
In addition to helping the integrity of the games, it could help increase revenues for each and every big time sport in the United States. The global gaming research firm GamblingCompliance has researched this topic endlessly, and projects that if gambling was legalized, it could generate up to $12.4 billion in revenue annually. For reference the NFL in 2015 made roughly $12 billion in revenue, as the largest sports league in the United States. Any time a wager was placed on a team, the league would be able to see a share in that money; and who doesn’t want more money. Increased revenues for all teams in the big four sports is something that I am sure they would love, and would help to attract more viewers to the sport, either for the love of the game or for the love of making money.
With only 40% of all wagers on sports coming legally, it is not in the best interest of these sports teams to oppose gambling anymore. With the size and focus that there is on the sports industry, it would only help their cause in growing and sharing sports to legalize gambling, and let the different leagues that are gambled upon “wet the beak” and take some of that money with that in order to increase revenues. By going through Congress, and having a very specific plan according to how legalized sports betting could work, the big four sports leagues in the United States could profit massively.