Navigating the Ethics of Sports Betting: Striking a Harmony Between Enjoyment and Accountability

by Staff

As soon as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was overturned, New Jersey acted quickly to legalize sports betting in the Garden State. In many ways, NJ sports betting has set an example for the rest of the country with several prominent sportsbooks operating inside the state. Of course, there are reasons why every state has not followed in legalizing sports betting. As a society, we are still trying to find the right balance between the joy and positive elements of sports wagers with the potential negatives.


The benefits of sports betting should be obvious. It’s a great form of entertainment that can make watching sports more enjoyable. If some people happen to make money from it, all the better. State and local governments are certainly making money from it through tax revenue. Based on each state’s priorities, they can use that extra tax revenue on projects that benefit that state’s residents. One could also argue that it’s a matter of personal freedom for people to have the right to place wagers on sporting events if there are regulated sportsbooks that are willing to accept those bets.


On the other hand, there is a potential dark side to sports betting, most notably gambling addiction. Like anything else, betting can be fine when done in moderation. But if a person starts to lose control, it can be a slippery slope. Gambling addiction is typically accompanied by social and economic hardships. More times than not, people who are already vulnerable financially face more serious consequences of gambling addiction than those who are better off from a socio-economic perspective.


This brings about the question of what groups that benefit the most from sports betting – the sportsbooks turning a profit and the state governments reaping tax revenue – should be doing to reduce the negative consequences. What should sportsbooks and governments do to prevent and treat gambling addiction? Do they have any obligation to bettors or should those who enjoy the personal freedom of sports betting be forced to take personal responsibility if they get into trouble?


To be fair, all advertisements from sportsbooks mention phone numbers to call for help with a gambling addiction. Most credible sportsbooks also provide players with gambling addiction information on their websites. Some even have tools available to players that can help them avoid betting outside of their means. However, this still requires players to take the initiative when it comes to seeking help for a potential gambling addiction. Therefore, bettors still need to practice personal responsibility to find the right balance.


At the moment, it’s still very much up to bettors to navigate the gray area of sports betting. While sportsbooks provide proper tools, bettors must still volunteer to use them. This includes setting limits and budgets for how much one bets in a given period of time. It also provides for the possibility of voluntarily banning one’s self from accessing betting sites. These are the best ways for bettors to hold themselves accountable because nobody is going to do that for them. It may not be ideal but it’s what’s needed to find the right balance between the positives and negatives of sports betting.

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The New Jersey Digest is a new jersey magazine that has chronicled daily life in the Garden State for over 10 years.

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