Comfortable and Furious

Prohibition Loses Again with Repeal of PASPA

Sports betting fans in the US have a lot to be thankful for right now. For over two decades, they’ve been unconstitutionally robbed of a simple right that many hundreds of millions of people enjoy the world over. Thanks to the repeal of PASPA we’ll finally be able to enjoy the dual pleasures of watching the big game with a few bucks riding on it once again.

It stands to reason that this article would eventually be penned. The prohibition of online sports betting follows a predictable formula. Once something that many people enjoy is banned, it’s only a matter of time before they find alternate ways to do it. Do illegalized drugs make people not do drugs? Obviously not.

Prohibition Through the Ages

We’ve all heard of the time when the US enforced a policy of prohibition against alcohol. The politicians of the day even went so far as to change the constitution to allow it! Did folks stop drinking? Heck no. They just did their drinking in unlicensed venues and got loaded on spirits distilled under highly questionable circumstances.

During prohibition, the government also lost huge amounts of tax revenue that would have been provided by the nation’s liquor industry. This money, of course, went directly to the likes of Al Capone and his multi-million-dollar organized crime syndicate. Capone was said to be making around $60 million a year at the height of his empire from sales of illegal hooch alone. This far outweighed any of the contributions to his net worth generated from his other, often less savory business interests.

Aside from loading up the wallets of gangsters, sending booze underground came with other consequences. Chief amongst these was that those who were willing to flaunt the law could only get their hands on illegally distilled drinks that often came with fatal side effects.

The Case of Cannabis

Another more recent bout of prohibition that is in the process of failing spectacularly is that of cannabis. In the years under the Marijuana Tax Act and later, the Controlled Substances Act, cannabis consumption continued, as it has done for many thousands of years.

Again, this has meant a loss of potential revenue for governments around the world, instead funding criminal networks who are often up to far more nefarious crimes than fatal side a little dope to grown adults.

It has also meant that those using the substance for either recreation or medicine have had to get their product from the black market. This has caused an artificial spike in the price of cannabis and such a premium encourages those selling or cultivating cannabis to experiment with adulterants. In Britain and Australia just a few years ago, street dealers were found to be using contaminants such as sand and fiberglass to increase the weight of the cannabis they sell. Cultivators too will often use harsh feeds to force the plant to bud as heavily as possible with little regard to the consequences for human consumption. In a regulated market where consumers have the choice to shop elsewhere and quality is constantly checked, this simply wouldn’t happen.

What’s Wrong with Prohibited Sports Betting?

Prohibition of sports betting like that still found in most of the United States and other nations has a similar set of downsides to those mentioned for both alcohol and cannabis. By attempting to protect the public, the lawmakers responsible for such harsh legislative measures are actually causing them harm. People love to watch sports. People also love to liven up a game by betting on their favorite team or player to perform well. Just as people will go and score their dope or drink from an unregulated source, they will also make bets at unlicensed sports books.

Of course, these operations pay no tax. If it’s an online service, the operator is often based outside of the US too. This means that the cash they generate isn’t even going back into the local economy.

These offshore bookmakers and casinos have little concern about prohibition legislation in a foreign jurisdiction. They advertise one of their perks as being able to accept US players. In fact, coupons are even available for the most popular online no deposit casinos at some sites.

There are other issues with black-market bookmakers too. What if something goes wrong, or they refuse to pay you? Are you going to go to the authorities and tell them that you’ve been betting at this unlicensed bookie and they’ve decided to pull an exit scam and disappear with your cash? Unlikely.

Finally, there are other issues surrounding player protection. For some people, gambling becomes compulsive very quickly. Others may be too young to be considered eligible to make such financial decisions. Black market sports betting operations care not if you’ve mortgaged the house to cover the spread or your fourteen years old and want to bet on The Rock becoming the President in 2020. Under a regulated system that the repeal of PASPA allows, player protections and age restriction can be enforced. This makes the act of gambling much safer and allows a legitimate industry to generate revenue for the state whilst protecting potentially vulnerable individuals.

Prohibition: A Repetitive and Spectacular Failure

Prohibition simply doesn’t work in instances where many people want to do the prohibited thing. Whether it’s alcohol, cannabis, sports betting, or watching Hollywood movies in Soviet Russia matters little. People will find a way to take part in the contraband activity.

This one failed spectacularly

By forcing them to use black markets, lawmakers are inviting a whole load of problems. They lose tax revenue, fail to protect their citizens, and create markets with artificially high prices as well as questionable quality. Let’s hope that more states follow the lead of New Jersey and Delaware in fully regulating sports betting soon!



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