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Editorial: Legal sports gambling needs a cautious eye

Soon, Illinoians will be able to feel the thrill of their favorite team not only winning a game, but also winning some spare cash themselves.

Sports betting and its recent legalization in Illinois were topics of discussion at this year’s Charley Steiner Symposium.

The legalization creates an opportunity for the state to generate revenue. The licenses, which can cost millions of dollars, will be one way for the government to make money. The state will also collect 15 percent of revenue from the state’s legal sportsbooks. If these funds are used properly by the state, it could do some real good.

However, there are potential problems with the new legalization.

At the panel, Mike Unes, who represents Illinois’ 91st district in the state House of Representatives, brought up his concerns about sports betting not having enough regulations.

He cited a past case of a player on the 1994 Arizona State men’s basketball team taking bribes to shave points.

University president Gary Roberts and Par-A-Dice Casino’s vice president and general manager Cori Rutherford argued that in today’s world those participating in these illegal activities would get caught.

They may be right, but there have been countless occurences of athletes and officials partaking in fixing games because of gambling. Making gambling legal, will not necessarily make these issues disappear.

The state did seem to rush the legislation to keep up with other states. According to Unes, several legislators voted on the bill before they even had time to read it, which is not uncommon in politics.

Rules still need to be established before the sportsbooks will be launched and the state should take a significant amount of time to consider how it should be regulated.

Another effect is addiction to sports betting. Although the legalization might be exciting, it is important for people to be careful as they become involved.

 

All forms of gambling can become addictive, and there is a high amount of problem gambling. Young impressionable college students are especially susceptible to this tendency and traditionally have less discretionary income.

 

Before these sportsbooks begin operating in Illinois, legislators need to make sure there is proper regulation in terms of protection for student-athletes, coaches and officials and help for those struggling with addiction.

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