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High Stakes: Sports Betting on the Rise

Sports gambling has become more and more prevalent today. How do professional sports leagues handle the controversies that come with it?

High Stakes: Sports Betting on the Rise

Sports gambling has become more and more prevalent today. How do professional sports leagues handle the controversies that come with it?

At some point in time you’ve had to have run into a sports gambling advertisement. From social media to podcasts to broadcast television commercials, it is inescapable. Draft Kings, Prize Picks, Underdog, these names are prevalent nearly everywhere. Most people have even placed a bet or two on some games or players. Heck, I even place a few bets from time to time.

Sports gambling as an industry was worth $235.46 billion dollars in 2022 alone. Since the advent of easy access sports betting and the normalization of it, sports leagues have wanted a piece of that massive pie from the companies profiting off their leagues. Thus, we see advertisements galore. Along with these partnerships of sportsbooks and pro leagues, massive influx of Pete Rose-esque gambling controversies have arisen.


Calvin Ridley with the Jacksonville Jaguars in his first season post suspension.

Calvin Ridley was suspended for an entire season, along with ten other NFL players receiving disciplinary action due to gambling. The NFL informed all of its players of its new rules regarding gambling and has barred all players from placing any form of bet inside team facilities.

It has even gone as far as to ban any players from the Super Bowl opponents, San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs from placing any sort of bet or even being inside of casino when the most recent Super Bowl was hosted in Vegas. Yet, the Washington Commanders now have actual sportsbooks inside of their stadium, condoning the industry at the highest possible form.


Jontay Porter

The NBA has had the most recent controversy with Toronto Raptors two-way player Jontay Porter being banned for life from the Association for disclosing confidential information to sports bettors as well as profiting off of it.

While the suspension was warranted, the NBA also has an incredibly high volume of ads for sportsbooks, featuring former stars from the league. The NBA will soon even allow viewers to place bets on Draft Kings or Fan Duel straight from the NBA League Pass app, making it easy access for all.


Ippei Mizahura and Shohei Ohtani (Pictured left to right.)

The MLB has probably had the most disturbing of the gambling controversies of the big three leagues. Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani’s translator, Ippei Mizuhara, was federally indicted for stealing money equating, sixteen million dollars, from Ohtani in order to place massive bets on international soccer, The NFL, collegiate football, and the NBA.

This led many to claim that he was merely a cover for Shohei’s “secret gambling addiction” which was later proven false. A sad and heartbreaking tale that nearly cost the league’s biggest star.

What now?

Sports leagues should stop promoting sportsbooks practically immediately (although, that will never happen.). It has led to multiple individuals associated with these leagues feel emboldened to place bets, parlays, picks, and whatever else, harming the integrity of their respective sports. I must be clear, players should not place bets, leagues should never promote sports gambling either.

Yet, it is hypocritical for leagues to constantly promote and encourage sports betting while also disciplining players for being unsure of the boundaries around it. Unfortunately, sports gambling is here to stay and a solution is not yet clear. There needs to be a line, lets hope we haven’t crossed it yet.


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