Tommy: I wouldn't bet on it

Tommy Tucker, WWL First News
March 28, 2019 - 12:02 pm

Back in the day, I used to make a wager or two, or twenty, on college and NFL football. I knew a bookie who took the bets. A couple of things made me stop.  One of them is that it’s hard to win.  Another is on a scale of one to ten WINNING is about a +7 while losing and having to draw $110 or more out of the ATM on Monday morning was about a -15.  Which brings me to legalized sports betting.

For the longest time, I thought legalized sports betting would have no effect on the number of people gambling or the integrity of sports.  I’m beginning to think I was wrong.

There is no doubt that wagering has had a major influence on the popularity of sports in America and around the world.  Why do you think ESPN airs Boise St. versus Hawaii late on Saturday night?  I’d like to think it was for the most ardent fan who just couldn’t get enough football.  But I can’t. Let’s face it. It’s a “get well” game for those who lost earlier in the day and are trying to get some of their money back.

Part of my argument for legalized sports betting used to be “you can always find a bookie to take your bet.”  But is it that easy?  Do you know a bookie? Can you pick up the phone and call him or her right now and get some money down on the LSU basketball game? Internet gambling? Do you know what’s legal where? What site is reputable?  I’m guessing probably not. 

You could, presuming one was available however, park your car, walk into a sports book and bet on a game as easily as you could pick up a purple drink at the convenience store.  Temptation is bad.  Temptation that is ready accessible is worse.

Now, for the corruption/integrity angle. We had a guest this morning, Mark Conrad, a Professor of Law and Ethics at Fordham University, who made some fairly interesting points.  Among the things he said was that an underpaid, or unpaid, athlete would be more inclined to compromise the integrity of the game (read college athlete) than would a well-paid pro (read NFL player). 

He also said that a lot of betting takes place on lower tier professional tennis.  That got me to thinking.  Most professional tennis players can drop the ball on a dime from across the court.  Given that, it would be very difficult to determine a missed shot from a “fixed” shot. 

Listen to all Conrad’s comments here.

Plus, even though it’s been legal in the United Kingdom for years, allowing bets DURING the game is, to me, INSANITY.  $200 that the next score is a field goal.  $500 that the next penalty kick is missed.  $700 that certain player fouls out. It seems fairly obvious that you’re begging for a penalty to be called, a kick to be missed or a player to be targeted that would affect the bet but not the game.  I could be wrong, but the last time I was wrong is when I thought I was wrong but I actually wasn’t.

There’s an old joke about one guy stopping another as he walks into a casino and asks for money so his mom can have a life-saving operation.

If, the second guy says, I give you the money, how do I know you won’t gamble with it rather than save your mom’s life?  Oh, the first guy says, I GOT GAMBLING MONEY. 

I’m not against gambling. I think everyone has the right to gamble as much of their money away as they want, as long as they don’t ask me for any of mine.  My main concern is that every sport doesn’t become so influenced by betting that we wind up with nothing but different versions of professional wrestling.  If the competition’s not real, what’s the point in watching…or betting?


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