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Redwood Bark

Redwood Bark

Twelve seniors were presented with awards to recognize their commitment to being outstanding high school athletes (Photo by Zoe Gister).
Redwood senior athletes recognized in new venue celebration
Charlotte LacyMay 30, 2024

On May 20, senior athletes, parents and coaches gathered at Sam’s Anchor Cafe in Tiburon to recognize and celebrate the seniors committed...

Smiling and holding their floats, seniors make the most of their lunch.
Seniors stay a-float for senior week
Hannah HerbstMay 29, 2024

On Tuesday, May 28, after a long Memorial Day Weekend and with only twelve more academic days left of school, leadership kicked off Senior...

Boys’ varsity baseball marks history with first-ever state playoff victory
Boys’ varsity baseball marks history with first-ever state playoff victory
Will ParsonsMay 29, 2024

On May 28, the Giants’ varsity baseball team took on the Carmel Padres in the first Norcal state playoff game in the program’s history. The...

Rolling the dice: The harmful effects of sports betting promotions

 

Nobody could have predicted the monumental impact of Murphy vs. National Collegiate Athletic Association in May 2018. Two and a half decades before this case, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection ACT (PASPA) restricted states from legalizing sports betting, shrinking the industry to a few illegal websites and local bookies, people who take bets from gamblers and pay out winnings. However, when the Supreme Court ruled that PASPA was unconstitutional, individual states were given the freedom to establish their own sports gambling laws, and the floodgates to one of America’s most significant, corrupt and addictive industries opened. In the five years since the landmark case, over $220 billion has been wagered on sports games, increasing at an average rate of 22 percent annually. 

Illustration by Zach Dinowitz

Yet the problem doesn’t solely lie in the legalization of gambling; it truly lies in the promotion of gambling on large platforms such as cable television (TV), social media and the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN). In an era with unprecedented social media use and technology addiction, quickly impressionable teens and young adults have become incredibly addicted to sports betting. Over the past three years, The National Council on Problem Gambling estimates that gambling addictions have risen by 30 percent over the past three years, and the council has seen a 45 percent increase in calls and texts to their hotline. The mass promotion of sports betting is extremely harmful to young sports fans, and it needs to be curbed before an entire generation becomes addicted.

Advertisements for sports betting constantly litter television, ESPN and cable TV. However, with the staggering growth of social media over the past half-decade, these gambling companies have found an alternative method to attract new audiences. According to the Responsible Gambling Council, men from ages 18 to 34 are by far the most likely to become addicted to betting. These young men can easily be targeted through advertisements on their favorite sports podcasts. Barstool Sports, a sports media company that owns three of the top 10 sports podcasts in the US, has its own sportsbook, which is advertised on its shows. Fanduel, America’s largest sportsbook, sponsors both the Pat McAfee Show, with a $30 million per year deal, and the Bill Simmons Podcast, the third most viewed sports podcast in the US. The list goes on and on as every single one of the top 10 most viewed sports podcasts in America has agreements with sports betting companies. With such high viewership on these podcasts, frequently averaging hundreds of thousands of listeners per episode, betting advertisements have become ingrained in sports culture. 

However, it’s not just men ages 18 to 34 who are becoming addicted; boys under the age of 18 are incredibly addicted as well. A recent study conducted in the March Bark survey found that over 40 percent of male students place a sports bet at least once a week, despite the fact that it is illegal as a minor. Yet, apps like Fliff, Underdog and PrizePicks have made sports betting easily accessible for minors.

A study done by IPSOS Mori, a market research company, proves that gambling advertisements have become commonplace in society; they found that 96 percent of people ages 11-24 have seen gambling marketing messages in the previous month. A separate study done by Dr. Ayoub Bouguettaya, a gambling psychology expert in London, found that increased exposure to gambling advertising was associated with more favorable attitudes towards gambling, as well as significantly higher rates of addiction. The connection is apparent between the mass promotion of sports betting and the increase in gambling addictions. 

The money flows easily for companies such as Bet MGM, Draftkings, Caesars, etc. These sportsbooks tilt the odds in their favor ever so slightly, taking about a dollar from every 10-dollar wager with 50/50 odds. While customers still often win bets over long periods of time, the books are guaranteed to make money as the odds are in their favor. In 2023, American sports betting companies brought in almost $11 billion in revenue, close to 10 percent of the $120 billion wagered by Americans in 2023. Because gambling is so addictive, it is hard for bettors to stop, and their consistent betting brings in large cash flow for companies while losing significant amounts of their own money.  

Throughout history, addiction in many different forms has plagued Americans. In 1964, nearly half of all Americans smoked cigarettes. Still, as the serious health effects became evident, congress passed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act, banning the advertising of cigarettes on television and radio. A steep decrease in the usage of cigarettes ensued, as currently only 11.5 percent of Americans smoke cigarettes. While cigarette addiction and gambling addiction may seem like an unequal comparison to some, UCLA Health found that gambling is just as addictive as nicotine and alcohol and can rewire the reward system in your brain the same way. 

It is often argued that sports betting increases viewership and interest in sports.  Gamblers are much more likely to watch a game if they have a bet on it; therefore, more people will watch games. However, watching games as a bettor changes the entire perception of the game and is ruining sports fandom. Instead of watching sports for the love of the game, for the team you root for or for entertainment, many people now tune in to games simply to fuel their addiction. This decreases most sports fans’ knowledge of the game overall, as they watch through the lens of a money-maker instead of as a spectator. 

Sports betting companies realize advertising has power in recruiting lifelong gamblers, as almost $2 billion was spent in 2022 to promote their platforms. Odds are in their favor, creating long-term profit for the company, while average citizens lose significant amounts of money. The government needs to step in and ban gambling promotions on all platforms, similar to the legislation created in the 1970s to strike down cigarette advertisements. Advertising targeted towards youth and adults vulnerable to sports betting addictions and mass promotion of gambling must come to an end. 

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About the Contributor
Matthew Knauer
Matthew Knauer, Sports Editor
Matthew Knauer is a junior at Redwood High School and is a sports editor for the bark. He enjoys playing baseball, surfing, and hanging out with friends.