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How has the legalisation of sports gambling changed American culture?

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When the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 was repealed by the Supreme Court in 2018 as unconstitutional, a whole new era of possibilities was opened up for sports betting.

Now, operators are able to provide online and in person sports betting opportunities with licensing on a state level, which means that what was once a niche hobby is becoming more mainstream throughout the whole of the US.

This cultural phenomenon is developing and growing, with new players coming to join their friends betting on the outcome of events from the NFL, NHL, and NBA to horse racing, European and English soccer, and even on the outcome of elections.

What does this mean for America and the American culture, though? Changing perspectives on what gambling is and what sports betting is in relation to perhaps more conservative mindsets has seen greater relaxation of sports betting legislation – which makes it easier for supporters to back their teams in the Super Bowl or have a crack at guessing who is going to win the Premier League this year.

What is Sports Betting?

In essence, sports betting is placing a wager on the outcome of a sporting event. Some basic sports bets might be about who will win a football match, or which horse will come first in a race. More seasoned sports bettors might wager on the points difference of a hockey game, or who will score the first hoop in basketball, for example.


Sports betting hinges on a combination of luck and analysis; knowing the ‘form’ of the team/horse/person that you think will come out on top and using that information to place a bet (then hoping that luck is on your side for the outcome).

Sports betting used to be something that only really took place in sports bars or at arenas, but now you can open an online sports betting account and place wagers on all sorts of different sporting events (and other things, too) – all to try and win some money and make some profit.

Why is it Important?

For some, gambling on the outcome of a sports match is all about showing support for your team. It’s almost a rite of passage for fans, demonstrating faith through the good old dollar.

Sports betting encapsulates the risk and rewards of supporting a team and brings people together to urge their team to victory – increasing camaraderie amongst the group. It’s a social ritual that can become part of the overall experience of watching the game, in person at the venue, at home on TV, or with your friends in the bar.

Some people view all gambling as a vice, while others deem it a normal part of their sport – and this dichotomy is mimicked in pop culture. You’ll see two main types of people that gamble in movies and TV shows; there will be the charismatic hustler who wins against all odds, or the morally bankrupt villain that uses gambling as a weapon of control.


What is the Impact of Sports Betting?

From an economic standpoint, allowing sports betting is a great way for the state to increase their tax income. Some states tax winnings, while others put a hefty tax burden on the online operators – but either way, it lines the coffers of the state.

In addition to this, locally operated sports betting providers offer employment, which is always a boon to the economy.

Providing a regulated and legalized option for sports betting takes the criminal element out of gambling – which in turn reduces social, emotional, and economic harm. Responsible operators ensure that bettors are not spending more than they can afford, and that they have access to help if they need it. In a safe space, sports fans can put their money where their mouth is and lay cold hard cash on their team to go all the way, adding to the interest and excitement.

From a team perspective, sports betting increases fan involvement. More fans will watch the games that they bet on, which means more advertising revenue and more money, better TV deals and then better performances – so everyone wins when fans are more involved.

Sports betting is a lucrative business, with more than $1 trillion estimated to be wagered annually. With so much cash at stake, sports betting has to be held to strict regulations, making it safe for everyone.

Is It Positive?

When sports betting is undertaken in a legal, regulated, and safe way – using a licensed provider, and with support offered for those who might experience harm – then it adds to the overall excitement and experience.

Fans can come together in a way that transcends mere support when they have cash riding on the outcome, and nothing builds camaraderie like shared passion for a team, especially when they are performing well.

The overall feeling, then, is that sports betting has a positive cultural impact.

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