Liberty And Gambling


Should we regulate and control gambling, or should we continue with most of it being illegal? Today the federal Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act prohibits any states – except Nevada – from regulating or controlling gambling. Maybe the federal law was passed with good intentions, because the government was logically concerned by the prospect of athletic competitors being bribed to “throw” their matches. But the law of unintended consequences once again prevails because not only has this law ushered in an enormous Black Market, it actually has made it more difficult to detect and prosecute corruption. How so? Because illegal betting makes it much more difficult to detect betting patterns, which increases the ability to fix athletic contests. And now eSports gambling is upon us, where people bet on online video game competitions, and already one player has been found to have made large amounts of money by betting against himself and then throwing his match. As of now it is estimated that this business garners about $700 million in profits, which is predicted to explode to $1.5 billion by 2020. The facts are that people have always gambled – always have and always will! So the only practical question is: shall gambling be controlled under the law, or by people outside of the law?

Going back to our roots, there is simply nothing in our Constitution that allows the federal government to pre-empt any state from governing gambling within its own boundaries. (As has been asked before in this series – show of hands – how many of you believe that the federal government has all of the answers?) In addition, all studies, as well as common sense, show that fans who bet on a sports event are more engaged if they have placed a bet on the outcome. As a result, betting is rampant and normal virtually everywhere, and illegal betting has pushed tens of billions of dollars into the shadow economy – all of which is uncontrolled and untaxed. So bringing gambling back under the law would take away lots of money from the criminal element, provide tax money for local governments, and allow investigators the heightened ability to detect fraud in sports. Thus Liberty in allowing adults to engage in legal gambling would once again provide greater benefits to society at large than government restrictions and prohibitions.

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President