The University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV)’s International Gaming Institute (IGI) has published an in-depth report looking at US sports betting.
Sporting integrity is looked at in the 33-page document, as are various other factors – such as the socio-economic impact of sports betting and how regulation could be approached going forward.
The report also looks at how even if local governments choose to prohibit sports betting, that doesn’t mean that players won’t still find a way to bet.
Sports betting has grown exponentially in the US since PASPA was repealed two years ago.
Sports betting in the US is anything but an alien concept
Although it’s only in recent years that attitudes towards sports betting in the US have grown more tolerant on a governmental perspective, that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t existed before. As the report says, “sports wagers have been popular in America since the dawn of the nation itself”.
Multiple measures have been introduced in the past to counteract the threat to sporting integrity that illegal gambling poses. In 1961, the Wire Act directly targeted organized crime, including within the sports betting landscape. There was also the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006, as well as the now-repealed 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
People have still bet illegally, though. In 2017, the American Gaming Association (AGA) estimated that unregulated sports betting handle amounted to $150 billion per year. The same association also found last month that a large number of players in regulated markets unknowingly wagered on illegal sites.
As UNLV IGI Executive Director Bo Jason Bernhard says, sports betting is not going away in the near or distant future.
“We expect to see a surge in the popularity of sports betting as the US acclimates to this ‘new normal’. As researchers, we want to ensure that this industry is regulated in a way that fosters the socio-economic benefits of gambling while minimizing its harms.
“As always, the IGI seeks to shed academic light on the major debates of the day, bringing together our ‘dream team’ of experienced and multi-disciplinary thinkers to weigh in on the big questions. Today, US policymakers can rely on an independent evaluation that covers a range of key issues, thanks to this first-of-its-kind report.”
Not regulating sports betting can actually make problems worse
The UNLV IGI also points out that at one end of the stick, gambling “types that score higher tend to emphasize job creation and minimize problem gambling harms”. Illegal gambling tends to, on the flip side, have a more harmful socio-economic impact.
Sporting integrity and legalized sports betting can work together
An interesting area pointed to in the report is the integrity-related concern that surrounded the Raiders’ relocation from California to Las Vegas in the NFL. However, Nevada’s sports betting regulation makes illegal gambling less appealing through four main areas.
– “Strict regulation and accountability of bookmakers.
– Transparent accounting processes.
– Robust minimum internal controls.
– High prices relative to remote/illegal wagering.”
The research was sponsored by GVC Foundation US, which was set up by online gaming operator GVC Holdings as a non-profit group to promote both sporting integrity and responsible betting.
Despite the above, GVC only gained access to the report after it was published. This was to ensure that a neutral stance was maintained. Everything was also reviewed by “two expert academics unaffiliated with the project”.
GVC Foundation Trustee and GVC Holdings Director of Regulatory Holdings Martin Lycka discussed the purpose of the report, as well as how the integrity of sports can be maintained as we navigate a regulated US sports betting market.
“Our goal in drafting questions for the study was to highlight all major aspects of sports betting – the good, the bad and the ugly.
“For sports betting to be the fun, safe, and well-structured enterprise that it’s meant to be, our industry needs to commit to honestly presenting its unique components to all regulators and legislators alike.”