Gambling: Bane or Boon?

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Chris Thomas, Staff Writer

This year’s Super Bowl did not exactly live up to expectations. The 31-9 blowout was unexpected, to say the least. This isn’t to say that Bucs fans should just move on, in fact they should celebrate a well-deserved win, however only 90 million Americans tuned in for the big game. ‘Only 90 million’ seems like an oxymoron, but viewership dropped almost 10% from last year. For the first time since 2007, less than 100 million people watched the Super Bowl.

 

On the other hand, sports betting had one of its best days. Billions of dollars were wagered in one of the greatest single-day events in sports betting history. Furthermore, upwards of seven million dollars were risked online. Despite the high stakes, bettors across the country did their best to keep the mood light. 

 

The length  of the national anthem, the number of dog commercials and even which head coach would be the first to demask was up in the air. Legitimate analysts were taking time out of their day to set a line for whether or not The Weeknd, the halftime performance, would be wearing gloves. A Texan by the name of Mattress Mack took home the cake  this year. He cashed in on a 3.4 Million dollar bet on the then underdog Tampa  Bay Buccaneers.

 

Gambling, even beyond sports, is deeply ingrained in American culture, as evidenced by the popularity of Atlantic city and Las Vegas. However, like usual, the nation is not united on the issue. At the moment, 30 states allow their citizens to gamble and only 18 of those have casinos.

 

Georgia is on the outside looking in and  has been for a long time. The  last time the state passed gambling legislation was  1992, when it introduced the lottery. Nonprofits are also allowed to  host bingo games and raffles. If it seems like Georgia is using kid gloves with its own citizens,  it’s because the state is. You’d be hard pressed to find a legislative body in America that restricts gambling more than the Peach State.

 

Recent events, such as the GameStop short-squeeze , and the market intervention that followed, have only rekindled  the resentment that some people have towards institutions that claim to limit the investor in the best interest of the investor, or in this case, the gambler. 

 

In the first month of  the year, several Georgia lawmakers brought forth  legislation to allow for gambling. State Senator Brandon Beach proposed multiple horse tracks, while others vied for citizens to be able to vote on the issue themselves. These two proposals will join an existing bill for the legalization of online sports betting.

 

Georgia, a historically conservative state, has plenty of traditionalist and religious organizations  that oppose the further legalization  of gambling. These groups believe that this kind of behavior is immoral and likely to breed crime. On the other hand, proponents of legalization find the  potential job growth and economic activity more convincing. There is no doubt that casinos and horse tracks would bring millions to Georgia, and some of those funds would contribute to the HOPE Scholarship. Still, opponents of the bills would counter that the HOPE scholarship has survived, so far, solely funded by the lottery.

 

In recent years, many similar efforts to legalize gambling have failed, but not for lack of effort. The state constitution would need to be amended in order for this legislation to pass in the form of anything stronger than a resolution, so a two-thirds majority stands in the way of legislative gambling progress.