Researchers Say to Reevaluate Sports Betting Expansion Push

Several industry insiders and research fellows have suggested taking sports betting legalization with a bit of caution as we push forward a country where each state has a legal sports betting framework.

Should We Slow Down Sports Betting Legalization? Maybe

Researchers from the University of Nevada and the International Gaming Institute have urged policymakers to take a step back and reevaluate the legalization of sports betting, which has grown exponentially over the course of the last 27 months.

The report was produced by several prominent industry insiders and research fellows, including IGI executive director Bo Bernhard, Caesars Entertainment VP of Responsible Gaming Policies Jennifer Shatley and IGI responsible gaming fellow Alan Feldman.

According to the researchers and their dedicated study, “The Big Questions: Sports Wagering America,” there were profound socioeconomic factors and changes that legal sports betting has brought around in 18 states.

Based on the study sponsored by the GVC Foundation U.S., sports betting legalization has had “unequal” influence on different states, which falls in line with why individual states issue specific surveys that are unique to their own residents and ecosystem prior to agreeing to legalize sports wagering.

UNLV researchers outlined what lawmakers and the public should be on the lookout for, by assessing different activities. They further explained:

“The types that score higher tend to emphasize job creation and minimize problem gambling harms, while the types that score lowest are those in the illegal sector – including a large illegal sports wagering market today.”

According to the researchers, creating a legalized context for sports betting to thrive in reduced illegal consumption and also led to technology jobs creation. Even as industry insiders, though, the authors of the paper advised to consider “pumping the brakes” on the rapid expansion that has taken place over the recent years.

Why Too Much of a Good Thing Isn’t a Good Thing At All?

The researchers approached the subject from all angles, Bernhard said, assessing not only the positives that the industry has brought on but also the possible downsides and how to avoid those from happening.

He noted that researchers were aware of common concerns such as problem gambling and underage gambling as well as gambling during the COVID-19 lockdown. According to Bernhard, the current report can be seen as a continuation of the “Professional Team Sports in Las Vegas: What the Research Says”, another report conducted by IGI back in 2016 to help shed light on sports betting.

Naturally, Bernhard acknowledged that a lot has changed since 2016 thanks to the striking down of PASPA in 2018.

Rapid Growth across the Entire Spectrum

According to Bernhard, the legalization push in the United States is massive, with only seven states currently not considering the legalization of the industry. In 2019, Americans wagered $13 billion legally on sports, and according to him, this figure could keep on track throughout 2020, although the COVID-19 forced shutdown will now hurt the results as March Madness was already skipped and much of regular sports has been disrupted. Yet, this amount pales in comparison with the estimated $150 billion wagered offshore.

Another key point for the researchers was the level of social impact which, Bernhard said, was being looked closely by. He further noted that in Europe, it was very common for a soccer team to be sponsored by a sports betting firm.

“You can’t buy your favorite soccer team’s jersey without a logo for a gambling company. Is this good for younger fans,” Bernhard asked. However, a big plus here is the fact that you can

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