I love a good side hustle. I have a job I enjoy, but one of my favorite things about it is that I often have the flexibility to explore other opportunities in my free time, such as writing for Baptist News Global. I also am a rabid sports fan. I am that obnoxious person who says “we” when discussing my favorite teams.
So in 2017, when the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to have a federal ban on sports gambling outside of Las Vegas, I was initially thrilled. Making money just by doing what I enjoy the most would be anyone’s dream. Now, however, it seems almost impossible to interact with sports without being inundated with content and advertising that focuses on the gambling side of things.
As of this writing, 34 states have approved sports gambling, and 43 allow daily fantasy sports contests, also known as DFS. In a few short years, legal sports gambling has grown into a billion-dollar industry, and the trend is decidedly toward further legalization, which has led to a steady climb in the aforementioned content and advertising.
As a participant in this industry, I have come to learn exactly how rare it is that I’ve been successful with my betting, but I also have witnessed firsthand the darker side of the industry and the many lives that have been damaged by it. “As a Christian and a sports gambler, I think it is important to reexamine the issue with a little more nuance.” It is fair to say that, throughout the church’s history, the Christian perspective on gambling has traditionally been, “Don’t.” But as a Christian and a sports gambler, I think it is important to reexamine the issue with a little more nuance, especially with sports gambling’s growing influence and popularity.
Much of my analysis could apply to all types of gambling, but I am going to specifically focus on sports gambling for three reasons: sports gambling is growing extremely quickly, sports gambling seems to have a more positive public image than other types of gambling, and sports gambling is where the bulk of my personal experience lies. Is sports gambling immoral?
Sports gambling is predicting the future performance of an entity, based on publicly available information, and earning or losing money based on the accuracy of your predictions. There is nothing inherently immoral about that; it is no different than investing in the stock market. In fact, you could take the analogy further: In both cases, you also get in serious trouble if you are too closely affiliated with the entity whose performance you are trying to predict (Martha Stewart on one hand, Pete Rose on the other).
And yet stock market investment is prudent and sensible, while gambling is a life-ruining vice. I think our difference in perception comes down to two things — the expected value of the activity, and the neurological impact. Expected value
Corporate stocks create value. A company sells stock to raise money and uses that money to develop new products and create new jobs. As these companies grow, more money begins flowing through the economy, and the general trend of the economy points upward. “If you are an average stock investor, you make a healthy profit almost every year.” To put it simply, it is not a zero-sum game. It is not only possible for everyone to win; it is actually pretty likely. If you are an average stock investor, you make a healthy profit almost every year. In fact, if you bought into the S&P 500 at the highest point in the market in 2007, right before the market collapsed in 2008 due to the financial crisis, and you did nothing else, today you would have just about tripled your money.
The expected value of sports gambling, however, is always negative. Usually, you risk about $110 to win $100, so if you are an average sports gambler, you lose $5 for every $100 bet you make. If you are really good, and you win 52% of the time … you still lose money.
It is extremely rare that anyone can be so good that they make a profit placing bets at a sportsbook. Many “professional sports gamblers” really make their money by being touts. A tout holds themselves out as an expert, and then regular people who want to gamble but do not have the expertise will pay to be told which teams to bet on. The bets touts recommend usually just about break even, maybe a […]
source Is sports gambling any more immoral or risky than the stock market?