For a change, I’m going to take a brief foray into the legislative arena today. I think that it is absolutely ridiculous that there are casinos all over the continent, and more every day, and yet you can only place a sports bet in a very small fraction of them. I’m reasonably confident that pretty much everyone who reads this will agree with me. We can bet on cards, dice, a steel ball, or a million different permutations of the whim of a microchip, yet the higher powers don’t trust us to legally bet on a football game without logging on and sending our cash into cyberspace. Silly.
I don’t know how it works where you live, but it’s truly ridiculous here in Canada. The only kind of legalized sports betting is offered by the government’s lottery programs. There are a few different options, but they all boil down to the same thing – parlays with brutal point spreads and ridiculously unfair payoffs. They are a complete joke, but the government feasts on the fact that the public is too stupid to realize how badly they are getting robbed. They laugh all the way to the bank.
I bring this all up because there was some surprising but pleasing news here in my home and native land today. The federal government is reportedly considering the legalization of sports betting in our casinos. Beyond the fact that there is absolutely no reason that it shouldn’t be legalized, and it is the ultimate in hypocrisy that they keep it illegal except for in their sham form, there is a solid economic reason behind it he economy is hurting casinos, and a lot of casinos are on or near the border, so the theory is that legalized sports betting could draw Americans across the border with their cash in higher numbers than they already are. The best news is that our Justice Minister, Rob Nicholson, is the man who ultimately will make he decision. He represents Niagara Falls, the site of two large casinos right on the board that are seeing big declines in their business. The casinos are massive employers in his riding, so he should be very susceptible to lobbying. It will take a while to get the provinces on side, but as long as Nicholson stays in his position I like the chances of ultimate success.
I don’t think that the reasoning is ultimately very sound – Americans may or may not come over the border, but not in big enough numbers to turn around the bottom line of struggling casinos. Regardless, I think that this is big news. If nothing else, if one jurisdiction outside of Nevada legalizes sports betting it will put the pressure on others to do the same. Soon, us sports bettors may be able to admit what we are in public without fear of persecution. What a novel concept.
Betting online will still be handier than going out to bet, and the prices are usually better online, but it’s really the principle of the thing that fires me up the most about this issue.