Economists in Ohio Confused Over Sports Betting

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Despite already having several years of data upon which to build conclusions, some people still have difficulty grasping the role legalized sports betting plays in the US. As Ohio becomes the latest to embrace the industry, a survey conducted by economists in the state shows that the number-crunchers are divided over the economic benefits that sports-related activity can bring to the state.

Some Ohio Economists Don’t Understand Sports Betting

A survey conducted this week revealed that 10 out of 23 academic economics in Ohio believed legalizing sports gambling would bring more benefits than its costs. This is according to a report by the Ohio Capital-Journal. Fourteen, however, said they expected the costs to exceed the benefits while the remaining nine aren’t sure.

Scioto Analysis carried out the survey. Last month, the same panel of experts overwhelmingly rejected the notion that taxpayer money should be used to build sports stadiums.

The issue of sports betting was a subject where opinions were more divided. The activity was approved by the Ohio General Assembly earlier this month, and Governor Mike DeWine already signed the bill. The state must begin legalizing sports betting by January 1, 2023.

Sports Betting Fuels the Economy, or Not

Sports betting has generated millions in tax revenue in the states that have legalized it. Some Ohio economists surveyed said there would be negative consequences. Faria Huq, a Lake Erie College economist, wrote in his survey response, “Tax revenue and job creation would be some of the economic benefits. However, there would be social costs due to the addictive nature of gambling which would disproportionately affect [lower-income] households.”

Huq apparently hasn’t read the studies that disprove the “addictive nature” theory.

Another suggested that he needed to find out more before he could determine if legal sports betting is a good idea for Ohio.

Michael Jones from the University of Cincinnati stated that it would affect the legalization of certain types of gambling. He explained that mobile betting on sports is highly competitive, and would lead to the loss of more revenue from casinos.

Multiple reports have already shown that this is a false assumption, as well.

Jones added, “If mobile betting is legal, Ohio citizens will be more comfortable with the technology (and gambling in general), and they will turn to global, cryptocurrency platforms with built-in anonymity. This will simultaneously deprive the state of any of this potential tax revenue while siphoning revenue from existing gambling sources.”

Legalized Gambling Produces Revenue

Thomas Traynor, a Wright State University economist, wrote that Ohioans are likely already betting on sports and the state should legalize it. He asserted, “Sports gambling is already prevalent in Ohio, the state will now earn revenue, anti-gambling law enforcement spending will decline, and Ohio wage and salary earnings will rise.”

This was one of only a few commonsense responses to the survey. However, it went downhill from there. He added, “However, gambling addiction problems will increase and many gambling losses will be suffered by [low-income] households.”

The myopic view that legalized gambling targets certain demographics are based on narrow and limited research. Those who want to get rich quickly will gamble whether it’s legal or not, and there are plenty of opportunities to gamble illegally where no legal options exist. The benefit of legalized gambling is that it offers consumer protection and awareness.

The argument that legalized gambling leads to addiction doesn’t hold up, either. In several countries, such as the UK, where legal gambling has existed for decades, the rate of addiction is – and has remained – well under 4%. The addiction rate of alcohol, pharmaceutical drugs, and other everyday items is much higher. It’s time for lawmakers and others to base their decisions and input on facts, and not on personal preferences.

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