The Supreme Court’s decision Monday to legalize sports gambling nationwide was hailed as a victory by many, but the ruling could potentially have adverse effects on a number of citizens, including and especially African-Americans.
Chief among those celebrating were politicians in New Jersey, the state which challenged the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that made illegal sports gambling in most places in the U.S. The Supreme Court disagreed with it, writing in part, that “PASPA does not make sports gambling itself a federal crime” in response to New Jersey arguing “that PASPA violates the Constitution’s ‘anticommandeering’ principle by preventing the State from modifying or repealing its laws prohibiting sports gambling.”
One key aspect that the Supreme Court and New Jersey seemingly failed to take into account is all the lives that have been ruined through compulsive gambling, an addiction that could be exacerbated by making sports gambling more accessible. Also at stake is the already questionable integrity of college sports, which stands to earn even more money while still not monetarily compensating their athletes.
Before amateur sports are even taken into consideration, it’s impossible to ignore the lopsided differences drawn along racial lines when it comes to disordered gambling, the psychiatric and clinical term for a pathological gambling addiction, according to research published by the National Institutes of Health in 2009.
Specifically, Black people “showed greater prevalence of disordered gambling when compared to Whites, suggesting that these groups may be at increased risk for disordered gambling,” researchers wrote at the time. Native Americans, Asians and Hispanics were also more susceptible than White folks to become addicted to gambling. That prospect seemed even more likely with nationwide legalization going into effect.
Compounding the scientific findings is the fact that the wealth and income gaps between Blacks and every other racial demographic has only been widening, meaning money spent by Black consumers has to stretch even further. As if scratch-off lottery tickets haven’t contributed enough to Black folks parting with their money—often without winning results—now the government has sanctioned yet another way to part with hard-earned cash.
Did we mention that the house always wins?
Beyond that, the ruling opens up the promise of administrators of amateur athletics (read: college sports) earning even more money off the blood, sweat and tears of college athletes—who still won’t be able to get a piece of the billion dollar industry of lucrative TV and apparel contracts that increase the value of the universities being represented.
And with the major college sports of football and basketball being dominated by Black athletes, the mostly White National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) getting richer off Black people is a major smack in the face to advocates who want to see college athletes get paid somehow.
The ruling also opens up the increased possibility of players betting on their own teams, potentially compromising the outcome of contests, as well as the overall integrity of the sports themselves.
But at the end of the day, America has figured out (yet again) another way to get itself paid through what will likely be hefty taxes associated with the expected proliferation of sports gambling. And according to the statistics, Black folks will be the main ones paying up.