ESPN The Magazine recently asked professional athletes the following question:
“Do you think sports betting should be legalized?”
It’s a perspective we haven’t gotten over the last few months as professional sports leagues and the NCAA engage in an ongoing legal battle with New Jersey over the future of sports betting in the Garden State and possibly nationwide.
Sports betting is illegal in the overwhelming majority of US states, but New Jersey is fighting to have a federal ban lifted and begin offering single-game wagering within the state. The sports leagues (mainly commissioners and owners) argue that legalized gambling would threaten to damage the integrity of games and lead to widespread corruption and game fixing, among other things.
So, what’s the athlete perspective? Would they be in favor of sports betting legalization?
A breakdown of the results shows that 92 percent of NHLers said yes, 59 percent of MLBers said yes, 42 percent of NFLers said yes and 30 percent of NBAers said yes. Overall a majority agreed with the distinguished governor of New Jersey. A sampling of their answers:
From a standout NHL defenseman: “Sure, why not? Now that you ask, why isn’t it already legal? I know in Canada you can go to the gas station and bet on sports and a lot of people do that. It doesn’t seem to have made any impact on the sport or the players.”
From a National League All-Star: “This country is about making money. And sports gambling is a big business opportunity that this country is missing out on.”
From an MLB reliever who recently won a World Series: “It’s crazy that it’s not already legal. Just crazy. But you would need to have heavy oversight and regulations to keep it in check.”