OPINION: Connecticut considers legalized sports wagering

OPINION: Connecticut considers legalized sports wagering

Asked about the possibility that videogaming might have contributed to his carpel tunnel syndrome, David Price, the Red Sox ace pitcher, recently said videogaming was something people of his generation simply do. He talked about players on the Milwaukee Brewers playing the game Fortnite on the Jumbotron of their home stadium.

Somehow I got that anecdote connected with what’s going on with sports gambling, now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overruled the law that kept it confined to just a few places. Now all states, including Connecticut, can figure out what to do on their own. Many are heading toward legalized gambling, and my guess is it’s likely to become as ubiquitous as videogaming.

You can ask whether that’s a good thing, or whether that’s a bad thing, or whether either way it can be stopped. State Sen. Tony Hwang, a Fairfield Republican, who is opposed to the expansion of gambling, recently noted a survey showing 44 percent of boys saying they’d bet at least once on sports from age 13 to high school graduation. The argument is that just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean we (as in Connecticut) have to. But in the age of the internet is that really the case?

As the David Price story indicates, people born in the 1980s grew up with videogaming. It’s now a norm in their grown-up lives. The same is about to happen when it comes to sports gambling. 

There are all sorts of worries associated with this, including whether the integrity of sports can survive. Are we going to be able to bet on how the first points in a football game might come about, or how many times a pitcher tosses a strike in a particular at bat? Those are called “spot betting.” Is there room for corruption there? You bet.

Enter a suspect phrase: “Integrity fee.” These are proposed payments to sports leagues by states that take up sports gambling. Steve Sweeney would have none of it. Sweeney is a lawmaker from New Jersey, the state that spent years and $10 million in legal fees in fighting to overturn the federal law. Sweeney called the integrity fee “extortion.”

“Essentially, the leagues are asking to be paid to allow games to be played fairly,” he said. 

So there’s a lot of wrangling. all for a piece of the pie, and when it comes to sports gambling the pie is quite large. An estimate in a report by the Washington Post​​​​​​​ put legal sports betting in Nevada, one of the places where legal gambling has been allowed, last year at $5 billion. Estimates for illegal gambling are much higher.

Connecticut lawmakers appear headed for a special session to work out the new opportunity for legalized sports wagering. In the Nutmeg State, the situation is complicated by the relationship with the two tribal casinos.

“Gov. Dannel P. Malloy often says America was better off when legal gambling was limited to Las Vegas,” reported a recent Connecticut Mirror article, “but he sounded Wednesday like a man who has accepted that sports betting is coming to Connecticut at casinos, possibly some form of state-authorized betting parlors and even on smart phones.”

In other words, it’s a major game changer, and it’s heading our way.

Reach Jeffery Kurz at 203-317-2213, or jkurz@record-journal.com










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