While the United States is nearing a point where half of the country’s states have legalized sports betting, four of Atlanta’s largest athletic franchises are becoming more vociferous for the introduction of mobile sports betting.
Speaking on Thursday this week, the heads of the big four professional sports teams have said that legislation is already in the works and Georgia will soon see a bill introduced. Gambling has been a recurrent topic in the state.
Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin didn’t answer straight to the 100 or so journalists who had gathered to hear out the sports bosses, but he said that it would come from legislators – just not sure who.
His colleague, Derek Schiller who is Braves CEO also confirmed that the wheels of legalizing mobile sports betting had been set in motion. Both were joined by Atlanta United and the Falcons who confirmed that legislation was indeed in the pipeline.
With sports betting developing, new ways to monetize the sector would be needed, the executives explained. Having sports betting “out in the open,” would allow the state to benefit from additional tax revenue through regulation, they added.
Boosting Tax Revenue and Interest
The boon of legalizing mobile sports betting is not just about additional tax revenue. Sports bosses believe that they can drive higher fan engagement by whipping up excitement and striking various deals.
Not only that, but sports betting could actually revive interest in traditional sports at a time when the number of viewers is dropping. Of course, this is not the only opinion of regulating mobile sports betting and there are those who hold reservations.
Gambling Harm Still Trumps the Benefits Opponents Say
There are concerns that allowing betting to progress online would lead to social problems such as gambling addiction, which is linked to various manifestations of self-harm, from financial ruin to suicide, to income disruption, and even affecting family life.
Concerned parties fear that gambling would be made too easy for vulnerable players to resist when all they would have to do is just place a bet from their smartphones. According to Virginia Galloway, an anti-gambling activist, the fact that people have to physically drive to casinos already creates an additional layer of security that could protect players from overindulging.
However, Schiller and Koonin would rather see mobile betting on professional sports legalized, whereas collegiate sports would have to take a back seat for a while. Giving their reasons why, the bosses explained that an estimated $1.5 billion are already being placed illegally on the NFL alone every year in Georgia.
However, Galloway is not convinced that embracing mobile sports betting would benefit the state of Georgia as much as the sports franchises would like to believe.
Worse, embracing the industry openly could lead to what Galloway believes would be a new generation of gambling addicts with declining social conditions for those who are already vulnerable to addictive practices.