Sports betting in America has experienced unimaginable progress, especially in the
past three decades. Betting on sporting events is the most popular form of illegal
betting in the U.S. and is one of the fastest growing forms of legalized gambling.
Sports wagering is commonplace from the nation’s factories to the boardroom. The
growth in the popularity of legal sports wagering can be attributed to many factors.
These same factors have contributed to the explosive growth and interest in illegal
sports betting around the nation. These include the following: The decrease in the
federal wagering excise tax from 10 percent to 2 percent to eventually 0.25 percent on
January 1, 1983. This served to convert many of those betting on sports illegally to
do so in a legal manner. It made sports bookmaking a profitable business venture.
The saturation of sporting events in the media has enhanced the public’s familiarity
with various types of sports. Cable television and satellite technology has made it
possible to bring the games live and direct to the sports books. The ever-expanding
mass media marketing of professional and collegiate sports has risen to enormous levels.
The three most popular sports for wagering (football, baseball, and basketball) all have
major contracts with national and local television providers. The weakened stigma
associated with gambling in general and specifically, with gambling on professional events
Gambling, especially on sporting events, is determined a victimless crime, or a crime
in which the accused has not acted in a manner considered harmful to another.
The legitimization of sports gambling in the eyes of the public has been promoted by
the frequent “natural” association of gambling with sport, particularly by the media.
Major Nevada resort hotels and casinos discovered that in-house race and sports books
were good for business and created substantial “foot traffic” through the casino.
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