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Only a matter of time until sports gambling legalized in Pa.

Source:sites edit:casino time:2018-02-06

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Americans bet about $5 billion on Sunday’s Super Bowl, almost all of it illegally, but relying on a “line” established by the big sports books operated by casinos in Las Vegas.

But it’s a good bet that Sunday’s game was the last Super Bowl on which most of the wagering was illegal. Many states, including Pennsylvania, are likely to have legal, regulated sports betting by the this time next year.

During its recent term, the Supreme Court of the United States heard arguments brought by the New Jersey government against the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which Congress passed 25 years ago. Its principal sponsor, ironically, was Democratic Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey, who had been a star for the New York Knicks of the NBA. It was clear from the justice’s questioning that they are likely to overturn the law.

Under the theory, backed by experience, that widespread sports betting threatened the integrity of sports, the law outlawed state-sanctioned sports betting everywhere but Las Vegas, where it had been legal since 1949, and Delaware, Montana and Oregon, which already had established state-run sports-based lotteries.

Over the last 25 years, any pretense of insulation from gambling has evaporated. Americans bet $150 billion on sports in 2017, according to evidence in the Supreme Court case, only $5 billion of it through the legal Las Vegas sports books. Most states have lotteries. Pennsylvania has authorized just about every other type of gambling, and stands ready to include sports betting. And proving that the major sports leagues, which enthusiastically had backed Bradley’s bill, no longer worry about the corrupting influence of gambling, the National Hockey League has based a franchise in Las Vegas and the Oakland Raiders of the NFL soon will move there.

It is a sure bet that widespread sports-sanctioned sports gambling will increase gambling addiction and the other pathologies that go with it, such as thefts from families and employers to pay gambling debts.

But the genie is out of the bottle. When sports gambling arrives, the state government should restrain its enthusiasm at least enough to ensure that a heft piece of the state’s vigorish goes toward gambling education and addiction treatment.

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