If you are a sports fan, odds are pretty good that at one point or another you have engaged in some form of sports betting. You may have been involved in a fantasy pool, you might have bet a beer with a buddy, you may even have placed a couple of bets on the outcome of the Super Bowl or March Madness.
Although sports gambling is so common it is almost natural (in fact, it has been a part of human culture for as long as sport itself), the fact is that many forms of sports gambling we engage in are actually illegal. This is particularly true if you live in Canada or the United States.
The big argument against gambling on most sports in these countries is a belief that betting on sports has the potential to undermine the integrity of the game. Although in the past this tended to hold true with all sports, today it is more an issue with minor sports and collegiate level athletics than the professional leagues.
The reasoning for this, of course, is fairly straightforward. Athletes who are receiving little or no money for playing their sport are more susceptible to bribes from individuals with a vested monetary interest in the game they are playing. When you are playing for nothing but the joy of it, the offer of a few thousand dollars to throw the game can be very tempting. Sports history is rife with examples of athletes both minor and pro who have succumbed to this temptation.
Legalities aside, it is fairly obvious that sports betting is still a major part of our culture. In fact, it is quite rare to hear of circumstances in which anyone beyond those directly involved in the game even get in trouble for engaging in sports betting. Those involved would include coaches, officials, and players, rarely those betting on the game itself.
In fact, you could say that sports gambling is pretty much an “open crime” these days. Odds and money lines are posted on all the major sports channels, and bookmakers operate online with relative impunity. There are little or no efforts to stop mass betting on sports, which seems to indicate that sooner or later the laws prohibiting the activity will be done away with for good.
In the meantime, though, if you want to get a piece of betting action on a sport but want to stay well within the law, there are a couple of ways to do it. Let’s take a quick look.
o Pari-mutuel betting: There are certain sports in which the government actually endorses betting. This type of betting is known as pari-mutuel, or revenue shared, gambling. Strictly regulated, it applies only to dog and horse racing, and jai alai. All of these events are quite short, and therefore harder to rig when it comes to results. And, the government gets a cut of all bets!
o Go to Vegas! Nevada is the one state in which sports betting is legal and practiced as well. Again, who knows the real reasons, but there are Nevada bookies ready to take bets from people all over the country.
o Go online: In most of the rest of the world, sports betting is regulated and not seen as a problem. That means that thanks to the Internet, people from North America can place their bets with well known bookies the world over. Bookmakers out of Vegas, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, and any number of other countries have a presence online. Just make sure that they will take your money; some are leery of American bettors do to the government’s ambiguity on the issue of sports gambling.