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Even the casual athlete has noticed an increase in commercials and advertisements trying to trick him into playing with the outcome of the competition he sees. The rush – to network television, Twitter, and sports websites – will intensify with the upcoming Major League baseball playoffs and the advancement of the National Football League’s fall season.
For the first time this year, the NFL will allow seven league-approved gambling companies to display commercials during television games. There are six such commercial slots available during each competition. DraftKings, FanDuel Group and Caesars Entertainment are now official sports betting partners of the NFL with the right to present game clips and league logos in their betting apps. All-sports networks like ESPN are increasingly broadcasting entire shows like “Daily Wager” that focus on gambling odds.
The door to such activity opened in 2018 when the US Supreme Court ruled that states can operate, sponsor, and promote commercial sports betting companies. Since then, sports betting – previously restricted to Nevada gambling houses – has been legalized in 32 states, and another 10 have legislation in the works.
“This is part of the relentless march of state governments and powerful gambling companies to introduce extreme forms of gambling in as many households as possible,” said Les Bernal, national director of Washington, DC-based Stop Predatory Gambling. “There are massive campaigns to normalize commercial gambling on television, social media, radio and streaming platforms.” Six years ago, repeated invitations to participate in a sports fantasy league began to appear.
David R. Just, a science and economics professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, says Americans have the option of betting on NFL, MLB, and college football games from the comfort of their own home, 24 hours a day , is a new development – one has been encouraged at times by the seemingly incestuous relationship between gambling companies and teams. For example, this year various regional television shows of major league baseball games will be broadcast on Bally Sports. The affiliated Bally Corp. operates casinos in 14 states and online sports betting across the country.
Historically, Just notes, there has been a strict separation between gambling and sports competitions to ensure fair play as cheating is possible. In the past four years, however, Las Vegas has become home to the Golden Knights professional ice hockey team and the NFL Raiders.
Bernal, 52, says the commercial lightning is an attempt by gambling companies to trick teenagers into betting lifelong habits of betting on the outcome of games. He says there is an epidemic of children involved in betting in the UK as a result of the legalized online sports gambling that began two years ago in the UK and Northern Ireland.
“Children grow up there and think that betting on games is a very normal way of making money,” says Bernal. “But children are the most susceptible to gambling addiction.”
According to Bernal, the profit margins of commercialized sports betting are not as high as those of slot machines or table games in casinos. However, if businesses can entice young people into placing sports bets, it can lead to other types of gambling.
“The goal is not for people to bet on a game once a week for 17 weeks of the football season,” says Bernal. “The real profit margin gets people to bet in their home 365 days a year.”
Thus, those who sign up for a sports gambling app on a smartphone are bombarded with Las Vegas-style online casino places wherever they have an internet connection.
Gary W. Blackard, President and CEO of Adult & Teen Challenge, the Assemblies of God’s US Missions service to people with addictions and other life-defining problems, agrees that misery will be the result of the plethora of sports betting promotions.
“The incessant marketing opens up more opportunities for people to become addicted to sports betting,” says Blackard, 53. “Easier access will make more people ‘gamble’, which means that more people will fall into the trap of addiction.”
Blackard, based in Ozark, Missouri, predicts that more people will seek help from the Adult & Teen Challenge in the next few years due to the increased presence of gambling on social media, television, and other electronic media.
Bernal fears that betting opportunities have evolved beyond just the team that will win the game. It’s about over / under point spreads. And, he notes, DraftKings is working with media companies to introduce a remote control that connects to a television screen to place a bet with the press of a button in front of each playing field.
“Betting while you are playing is like having a slot machine experience when it comes to sports,” warns Bernal. “It’s not just about predicting whether the cards will beat the Cubs in one run, but whether the next pitch will be a ball or a punch.”
Likewise, in football, the player decides whether the next down is a run or a pass or how many touchdown passes Tom Brady throws in the first quarter.
“There are limitless betting options during the game,” says Bernal. “This is the most extreme and dangerous form of gambling that has ever been invented.”
As a result, a bettor could lose hundreds if not thousands of dollars on a single game.
“Now the children not only strive for their team’s victory, but also to see whether the team will cover the point distribution,” says Bernal. “It’s changing the way kids see sport.” He cites a UK study that showed that 80% of young people consider sport and gambling to be synonymous.
Bernal is annoyed that the aggressive games of chance are marketed with terms such as “risk-free” or “free bets”.
“It’s totally predatory and hunts down fans, especially children,” says Bernal. “No other product can be advertised like this.”
Blackard says that such temptations can lead Christians to seek help elsewhere instead of relying on the Lord.
“Saying it is easy to get rich by playing ‘games’ sends the wrong message,” says Blackard. “The odds just don’t stand for those looking for a way to make money.”
Blackard believes the sports gambling push is an attempt by Satan to distract Christians from having a deeper walk with Christ. The devil will use every wedge – gambling, alcohol, pornography, food, even shopping – to keep Christians from having a closer relationship with the Lord, Blackard says.
“It’s dangerous,” warns Blackard. “We are going to see the economic decline of families trying to make up for the money lost in betting.”
Bernal is committed to getting commercial gambling operators off the air, as the Federal Communications Commission did with tobacco products 40 years ago. But he realizes that he is facing an uphill battle. With the vast majority of states sponsoring gambling companies such as lotteries, no attorney general has brought proceedings against gambling companies for predatory practices. When the state government closed restaurants, cinemas, and even hiking trails last year due to COVID-19, lotteries continued to sell tickets.
Just, 46, believes that sports betting advertising and advertising will saturate the market for the foreseeable future. Sports betting is expected to generate around $ 4 billion in revenue this year.
“This is a growth market,” says Just. “As long as no regulatory authority intervenes, this will increase in awareness, visibility and acceptance.”