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Case Study: Connecticut’s Online Sports Betting Laws and Flaws

Updated: Jul 20, 2022

Since the birth of organizations such as DraftKings and FanDuel, the niche area of online sports gambling has grown throughout time. Though some recent developments have turned the tides considerably on this area and how the Supreme Court and other legal organizations have felt about this issue. So, let’s go on a small walk through the history of sports gambling and see how it’s been reflected on a national scale before we zoom in on my home state, Connecticut.

During the 1900’s, scandals rocked sports and made way for legislation in the area of sports gambling. Most notably, the Chicago “Black Sox” scandal. To summarize it quickly, players on the Chicago White Sox intentionally lost the 1919 World Series in exchange for bribes from outsiders who would handsomely profit off their loss. This, along with many other gambling scandals, led Congress to eventually pass the Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act, or PASPA, in 1991. This law reflected the views of Congress regarding the fact that gambling was a “national problem.” Congress continued to clamp down on sports betting laws, ensuring that they would never develop into something big.

This was, until May of 2018.

In May of 2018, the Supreme Court voted against PASPA in a 6-to-3 decision in Murphy vs. NCAA. In short, the Supreme Court decided that the federal government may not force state governments to carry out its will, or that it violated the anti-commandeering principle. So now that we have gone through the history of sports betting, lets dissect the most recent Connecticut sports gambling law.

My major issue with the Connecticut law that was passed in May of 2021 is that there is a lack of oversight. The American Gaming Association has made the argument that federal oversight of online sports gambling is not necessary, as it should be left to the states. The issue with this is the fact that the states don’t exactly have the resources to oversee this in comparison to the federal government. In Connecticut, the oversight of online sports betting is tasked to the Gaming Division of the Department of Consumer Protection. This is an issue because the state department is not funded to the same degree that the National Indian Gaming Commission is. Specifically, the NIGC had a $121 million budget in 2021, and is projected to have this same budget in 2022. This is compared to the $16 million budget for the Connecticut Consumer Protection department as a whole, never mind the budget for the Gaming Division itself.

This has obvious risks, because less resources being dedicated to a certain effort will result in the department being able to do less to ensure that there is nothing nefarious going on. For example, as discussed in the Conduct Detrimental Podcast titled “Ben Simmons & The Sports Vaxx Standoffs,” the Netflix documentary “Bad Sport” has an episode that covers the Arizona State men’s basketball team and how they shaved points in order to ensure that the underdog would cover the spread for their bet, leading to the people that paid the athletes making a lot of money. It was only because there was a plethora of resources to help supervise the sportsbooks that the people behind this scandal got caught, and since the Connecticut department has less resources to catch these schemes, they could continue to go on if there is nothing done regarding the supervision of online gambling in Connecticut.

So, after analyzing the history of sports gambling and the viewpoint of the Supreme Court, it should be easy for them to be able to maintain that the federal government has a way to supervise gambling. If they don’t, these cases of point shaving could make their way to your favorite sports teams, and then it’ll be the scandals and infamy of the “Black Sox” scandal all over again, just with some other sports franchise.

Jon Trusz is a Junior at the University of Connecticut studying Political Science and Communications, and can be reached on LinkedIn under his name, or by email at [email protected].

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