By Tony George Every year after the Super Bowl I get angry. I am not referring to the fact that football is over, but that does not help my demeanor either. The opening first two months of the first quarter of the new year always brings bad news from the economic front in politics. Watch the news every night if you need to be reminded of this fact. I am going to make some assumptions in this blog about tax revenues. I also am going to quote some public opinion out of an article in 2009 in the state of New Jersey, one of the hardest hit states in the Union outside of Illinois in terms of being not solvent as a government entity.
While I am a moderate to liberal republican as an individual, bordering on libertarian, and never thought I would agree with anything that Barney Frank had to say, legalizing gambling, and online gambling may not save the beast that is the Federal Government, but it surely would do more than provide a band aid. I fully back Mr. Franks quest to ease restrictions on online gaming. As we all know in gaming circles, in 2006 the Feds decided to outlaw Internet gambling, including Poker Rooms, and many of my friends we all of a sudden called criminals in the US. Just an insane situation, but sadly a fact. My personal marketplace declined close to 80% alone in revenues, and I am a small fish in a big ocean when it comes to online sports handicapping and online sports gaming.
I guess the biggest sucker and square bet in the history of man, state lotteries and Powerball lotteries are OK with the Feds however, where you have a 1 in 20,000,000 chance of winning, but give yourself better than 50% odds to win a sports bet, or a Poker hand, and you need to go to jail. The Feds LOVE the monies they receive from the biggest scam in American gambling, but this proves my point. The Feds can track it and regulate it and profit from it, so it is legal. Online gambling and dealing with foreign companies and international gaming regulations with no way to get in it and control it, and get no money from it, they make it illegal. Not to mention just stepping all over out civil liberties and violating our privacy in the process. One thing consistent about Washington DC is that it has the basic 2 human emotions, Greed and More Greed. I guess I can say the same thing about Wall Street while I am at it.
The Super Bowl handle in the state of Nevada for the Super Bowl alone was 87 million dollars this year. Recently New Jersey toyed with the idea of legalizing sports gambling in their racetracks and casinos. State officials and others estimated a $100 million dollar take in tax revenues if implemented by 2011based on an 8% tax rate for gambling. While I assume those numbers were inflated to sell the deal, as is the case with most politicians and their subordinates, the amount of dollars generated by legalized sports gambling in the US would be in the billions in terms of tax revenues. There is 2.6 billion dollars wagered in Nevada per year on sports, and remember that the 87 million on the Super Bowl is estimated to be only 1% of all wagers worldwide on the Super Bowl. Gambling is bigger than Microsoft folks!
Roads need to be fixed, social programs need funding, teachers all need raises, and astronomical debt needs to be repaid. Now so many conservatives think it will decay the moral fabric of our country and most people are not behind it. I beg to differ and post the following quote from an article referring to the question of legalized sports betting at the end of this blog post. The moral fabric of this country decayed beyond the point of no return when New Jersey Shore was renewed on VH1 this year.
Uncle Sam and offshore companies need to form a committee and look at how they can communicate and build a business model that the Feds are OK with in order to open up online betting. Nice thing about online gaming is no one shows up at your door Tuesday morning to bust your kneecaps when it is time to pay up, you can only wager what is in your account, not bet over your head, if anything it is a form of self reregulation upon people who may in fact want to gamble past their means. THEY ARE DOING IT NOW WITH Illegal bookies all over the country and Uncle Sam is missing the tax gravy train. Same goes with poker and online casinos.
The Feds also spend tens of millions of dollars a year and wasted time chasing organized crime when it comes to gambling or illegal bookmaking operations and or chasing down guys at offshore sports books running a legitimate business in the country of origin, so add that to the savings and tax coffers. A violation of civil liberties can be stomped out in the process of legalization, we are all adults and what we choose to do online in the comfort of our home on a few calculated risks is our business. Actually when it comes to sports betting for the vast majority of people who have half a brain, it is a better risk that the stock market.
Legalize it, tax it, reduce restriction and government control of private lives, let the debate cease and create a revenue stream and more jobs for private enterprise and local, state and federal government. While all Pro leagues shy away and moan about gambling, it drives all their sports as well as the NCAA. Who cares about UAB playing Memphis on Thursday night when the spread is 18 points and ESPN is pulling a 7 share on cable in the ratings? Las Vegas Sportsbook owners are like the 3000 pound elephant invited to the annual NFL Christmas party every year, always on the guest list but nobody buys him a drink. Gamblers drive TV revenues through the roof because 80% of the male population are action junkies. The only red blooded American males who did not have some sort of action at all on Super Bowl Sunday were in the cemetery.
Think I am wrong or the public is not on board with me, see below. Time for action folks, get behind the cause, it is working in Egypt right now with a grass roots movement, let’s make it happen! There's no question that the public loves the idea. The latest Farleigh Dickinson University Public Mind poll shows overwhelming support back in New Jersey in 2009. Those asked about allowing sports betting at Atlantic City's casinos loved the notion – 63 to 32 percent. In every subgroup - men, women, liberals and conservatives – opinion was the same.