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Opinion | Legal Sports Betting Spreads, Including on Campuses

To the Editor:

Re “Universities Help Sportsbooks Sign Up Young and Vulnerable” (cover, “A Risky Wager” series, Nov. 23):

This article questions whether the promotion of gambling on campus “fits with the mission of higher education.” Is that really a question? Of course, this does not fit the mission of higher education, but apparently it does fit the mission of those universities that welcome the money that goes with it.

Student athletes can be turned into student gambling addicts, but that’s just the cost of doing business. Instead of “win one for the Gipper” we will “lose one for the bookie.”

John T. Dillon
West Caldwell, NJ

To the Editor:

The arrival of sports gambling at colleges is a nasty development in the race for the revenue that increasingly supports campus amenities and entertainment. A report from the Social Science Research Council showed that college students have far more free time than the average 27 hours per week spent attending classes or studying. And now, in pursuit of revenue, come deals with gambling companies, often orchestrated in secret.

Pathetic excuses from the University of Colorado Boulder chancellor that some of the money will be used for student mental health make clear the malpractice of flirting with student gambling addictions. College students need mature leadership to attain maturity for careers and good citizenship. They will find it difficult when their campus administrators take money from the gambling industry.

Michael B. Poliakoff
Washington
The author is president of the American Board of Trustees and Alumni.

To the Editor:

I am a gambling addict and have not placed a bet in over 52 years. I remain in recovery and active in a 12-step program of my friends who rescued me from the abyss in 1970.

Your articles on gambling show how the industry has dug its way into colleges and universities to benefit itself with crumbs for the states through taxes. Online sports betting will ruin many young gamblers who are new to the thrill of making a legitimate bet and those who place bigger and bigger bets to recover from earlier losses.

The gambling industry and the colleges and universities should fund appropriate educational programs and treatment for those who become addicted or want to stop gambling.

Bill Brosnan
Delray Beach, Fla.

To the Editor:

On “Cigars, Boze and a Sports-Betting Blitz” (cover, “A Risky Wager” series, Nov. 20):

Since the federal ban on sports betting ended in 2018, millions of Americans have left the illegal, unregulated market to bet with legal, licensed operators. Your one-sided “investigation” into legalizing sports betting leaves out the enormous benefits generated by this massive shift in consumer behavior.

Legalized sports betting has generated $2.45 billion in federal and state taxes since 2018 — new funding for schools, public safety and problem gambling programs. Today, thousands of state gambling regulators enforce robust consumer protections and federal regulators oversee strict financial requirements. Operators invest billions annually to meet regulatory requirements and support responsible gambling.

None of this exists in the illegal market. In fact, illegal sports betting funds violent crime and exploits minors and the vulnerable.

We are proud of our industry’s efforts to establish legal, regulated sports betting. While this is good for our industry, it also offers clear benefits for consumers and communities.

Bill Miller
Washington
The author is president and CEO of the American Gaming Association.

To the Editor:

Sports betting is more popular than ever, according to our latest poll on the subject. One-sixth of American adults — and a third of men under 55 — bet on sports today, with 71 percent betting on sports at least once a week and 11 percent at least a few times a day.

At the same time, however, there is an undercurrent of concern. While six in 10 adults agree that licensed online sports betting should be legal anywhere in the US, about the same percentage say sports betting should not be widely marketed on TV and the Internet or through celebrity endorsements. Elected officials, listen up.

Will Johnson
Chicago
The author is CEO of the Harris Poll.

To the Editor:

I am a tennis fan and follow many of my favorite players on social media. Several female tennis players have been very open about the barrage of hateful messages they receive after matches. Many contain death threats, racist attacks and misogynistic language, and some are sent by punters who have placed bets on matches. Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens and teenage phenom Coco Gauff are just a few players who have shared the abusive messages they are subjected to on a regular basis.

Even as you know it, the channel that shows most of their matches in the US – the Tennis Channel – works with betting sponsors like DraftKings. The players give post-game interviews at the branded DraftKings desk and betting promotions air during program breaks.

I would like to know how Tennis Channel executives feel about their role in fueling hatred directed against the champions of their sport. And I’d like to hear from players – in tennis and in other sports – about how the rise of betting has affected their mental health and, sometimes, their performance.

Rachel Bucci
Salem, Ore.

To the Editor:

I recently saw a wonderful high school production of “Guys and Dolls,” the ageless Frank Loesser musical that portrays those addicted to the sin of gambling as confined to a small group of “no-goodniks,” facilitated by that lovable bum Nathan Detroit – everything one step away from redemption and salvation.

What a kinder and gentler time it was, when gamblers had to cry desperately “Where’s the action? Where is the game?” rather than simply reaching for their cell phones.

Arthur Gang
Westport, Conn.

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