Today, sports betting is a multi-billion dollar industry, with bets going by the hour on every single sporting event around the world, online and in person. In their own home, people of all ages (legally, anyway) are making bets on every single moment of the match while it is happening. The betting line and odds go up and down by the minute and the bettors are already there to stake some money in. Gambling still includes bookmakers, or “bookies,” to take bets and give out winnings to those who succeed. Despite a difference in opinion over the morality of gambling overall, it has been in existence for centuries.
It makes sense that a community, such as the Ancient Greeks, is responsible for gambling on athletics in the first place. Their love for sporting events, as seen in the Ancient Olympics, permitted thesethings two millenniums ago. Then, the Romans came along and improved on this recreational event, gambling on gladiator matches, chariot races, and other games. The Romans made it fully legal, until the medieval era, where they attempted to stop it completely. Fairly enough, the English kept it discreet and accepted, and the betting of all athletic matches went on.
With the expansion of sports betting into the 20th century came the rise of the criminal underworld that used gambling as another form of profiteering. Illegal bookies in organized crime falsified odds and even instigated “fixes,” paying players, managers, and referees to change the outcome of the match by making bogus calls and intentionally lose. In 1919, eight players from the Chicago White Sox were paid by gamblers to lose the World Series and were banned for life afterwards. In 1947, former middleweight boxing champion, Jake LaMotta, was suspended and later reinstated for taking a “dive” for the Mafia in order to get his championship bout set-up. In 2000, Hansie Cronje, the captain of South Africa’s cricket squad, received a lifetime ban after he took part in match fixing with Indian and Pakistani racketeers. And, in 2008, basketball referee Tim Donaghy went to prison for conspiracy to intentionally missing or making calls to adjust the game’s point spread. Donaghy, a gambling addict, had accepted bribes with illegal bookmakers, and the investigation labeled NBA games as being rigged for consistent blown calls.
While corruption is known to happen in sports betting, governments and sporting associations have made strides to regulate all legal gambling forms to prevent match fixings. This is done to protect the consumer who bets and watches these games and the sport itself to prevent its reputation. Most leagues have accepted sports betting, but others, such as Major League Baseball, explicitly prohibit players, managers, and umpires from gambling on any baseball game; the punishment is a lifetime suspension, as seen with the “Black Sox” and Pete Rose. Online gaming sites are treated seriously as any unlicensed site can be suspected in game fixing. They are strictly enforced, but it is impossible to go after every illegal gambling action.
However, sports betting are popular and carefully watched to where it is safe for people to take part in. From horse racing to boxing to the Olympics, gamers always hedge their bets on a match for fun rather than professionally, as it should be. It is everywhere now thanks to the Internet. While the moral argument against gambling in general remains, it is fruitless to try and ban it. With sports, this is one of the easiest and most fun ways to take part in the betting experience.
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