Sports Gambling

The brilliant economist Steven D. Levitt has an excellent post on the Freakonomics Blog discussing a subject very near and dear to my heart: sports gambling.

Specifically, Levitt argues against the practice being illegal:

Laws that are so widely violated and blatantly ignored do not make sense to have. History (and economics) tells us that it is typically better to use the price mechanism in the form of legalization with taxes to alter people’s behavior when that is society’s desired goal. Moralistic arguments against sports betting hold no sway when governments have so broadly institutionalized the lottery.

I consider myself a law-abiding, productive citizen in our society, yet I also enjoy wagering on sporting events as a hobby and small-time investment strategy (I’ll probably make my picks a regular feature here at Freelance Dogs).

I’ve wagered online for over four years, and have managed to hang on to my house, car, and life savings. I’ve also succeeded in avoiding attempts to fix games or otherwise corrupt the purity of sport. In short, there’s no good reason for the government to use the force of law in an ultimately futile effort to prevent me – or any other citizen – from gambling on sports.

3 thoughts on “Sports Gambling

  1. mike Post author

    I have to say I agree with Levitt on this (I typically do). I know plenty of people who gamble, and none of them are on the streets, nor have they ruined their families. Just because some people lack willpower does not mean that the state should protect them from themselves.


  2. steve

    Sports gambling is the perpetual elephant in the room in professional and college sports. Football is without a doubt one of the most ideal hotbeds for this “il”legal action. My working harebrain theory is that steroid use in sport will never be actively stamped out until this silent majority of undeniably powerful consumers make the decision that this action is affecting their hard earned money. However instead of utilizing this market share, the government would rather shut off online gambling sites (i.e. milsports) and futilely call up baseball players in front of congress and have commissioners take away their first class tickets to games that players seek to avoid. But I guess somethings are destined to remain backward.



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