Shortly after the advent of the internet, the question of the legality of online gambling followed. Until the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act that was attached to the Safe Port Act and signed into law October 2006, the government had done little to stop it. However, the UIGEA is a far cry from eradicating an institution that is more accepted and popular then ever, and one that so many enjoy.
We can all see proof that the perception of gambling is shifting towards tolerance through the increasing number of states that have laws allowing slot parlors and casinos. Other states are working on new legislation to allow card games to make up for lost revenue as neighboring states finally open slot parlors. Poker is now televised as a sport on multiple channels throughout the year.
“Judged by the dollars spent, gambling is now more popular in America than baseball, the movies, and Disneyland-combined,” said Timothy L. O’Brien in his 1998 book “Bad Bet.” Gambling has actually been part of life in America ever since the colonial joker123 days. As long as the game was regarded suitable for gentlemen, gambling was considered a proper diversion from life.
The Virginia Company of London was the first to use a lottery to raise money for its venture in the New World. Later all 13 colonies were running lotteries, usually more than one. Colonist felt obligated to play, like buying your son’s raffle tickets. Some of these lotteries assisted in the establishment of several of America’s oldest and most prestigious universities such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Dartmouth and William and Mary.
From riverboats to saloons during the gold rush, gambling thrived as entertainment as well as a way for the establishments’ owners to earn an income in the Wild West. Gambling has similar aspects one could easily associate with those laying the outline of our country on the frontier: risk, opportunity and essence of adventure.
The rise of professional sports during the 1900s, along with the popularity of college football and basketball, increased the popularity of sports wagering in the United States. Today football (NFL and NCAA), basketball (NBA and NCAA) and Major League Baseball all have major television contracts. These contracts assisted in the transformation of the sports wagering industry into a one hundred million dollar a year business. Now the NCAA and some members of congress would like to make wagering on all amateur sports illegal no matter the state.
Their supporters say it is necessary to protect the student athletes and the integrity of the games. To validate their position on gambling, the NCAA released part of a study called the National Study on Collegiate Sports Wagering and Associated Health Risk on Wednesday May 12, 2004. The study surveyed 21,000 college student athletes nationwide. According to the NCAA’s study, 35% of male student athletes and 10% of female athletes had wagered on college sports in the previous year. It goes on to state that gambling money has influence the outcome of collegiate games.
According to the survey, 2.3% college athletes were asked to manipulate games, 1.1% of football players have accepted money for a sub par performance, and 1.4% actually acknowledged that they altered their play on the field to affect the outcome of a game.
In 2004, Bill Saum, director of agent, gambling and amateurism activities for the NCAA, was waving this survey as proof for the need to make wagering on college sports a thing of the past. Saum was not alone. In two separate bills to be introduced in 2003, Sen. John McClain, R-Ari, and Rep. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., tried to make it law by amending the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. All involved believed it was needed to protect the athletes and the integrity of college sports.
This legislation, which would have been practically unenforceable, would have done nothing to eliminate the 1.1% of football players that reportedly accepted money. This law only penalizes the legit sportsbooks. Las Vegas sportsbooks are not the ones confronting these students. Obviously, these players were working with a bookie, sometime also a student, which in itself is illegal. No matter if Senator McClain or Representative Graham would have gathered enough support for one of their bills to