I Prayed have prayed
Lord, we pray that state government and sports leaders would see the harms of gambling on our society and resist its monetary temptations.

Analysis. The Cincinnati Bengals made a surprising appearance in the Super Bowl earlier this year. Toughing it out game by game, their underdog run eventually ended with an exciting loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the big game. But many a football fan around the nation was cheering for them.

So were those who placed bets on them. And now, apparently, the Bengals want a direct piece of that action.

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Ohio is set to legalize sports betting on January 1, 2023, so the team is getting itself ready. In fact, the Bengals announced on Wednesday that, pending licensing by the state, they would be partnering with Betfred USA, a subsidiary of a prominent British gambling organization, to allow customers to make wagers.

“The Bengals continue to look for exciting new ways to enhance the fan experience and this partnership will provide additional opportunities to engage with our fans,” said Bengals chief marketing officer Brian Sells.

Ohio is joining 34 other states that have approved legal sports betting. Thirty are already offering gambling opportunities, and Ohio is among 5 set to launch soon. Three more — Alaska, California, and Massachusetts — have legislation or ballot efforts in the queue to consider joining this group.

The scramble among the states to jump deeper into the gambling business began after the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 struck down a 1992 law — the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act — that had largely restricted sports betting to Nevada. Justice Samuel Alito delivered the Court’s opinion based on federalist principles respecting the role and powers of state legislatures. He recognized the controversial nature of such gambling and the concern by opponents that it could “hook the young on gambling, encourage people of modest means to squander their savings and earnings, and corrupt professional and college sports.”

However, Alito concluded, “The legalization of sports gambling requires an im­portant policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own.”

Ironically, the NFL and other professional sports leagues were among the leading proponents of keeping the 1992 law in place. Now they have reversed course in striking fashion. Anyone who has watched sports recently cannot help but be confronted with a barrage of sports betting ads, many with celebrities touting the “fun.” And just a few weeks ago the NFL hired its first executive dedicated to overseeing this area of business for the league.

Why the new focus in the states and among the leagues? Well, it’s the money, of course. Gambling is big business.

The American Gaming Association (AGA), the national trade group for casinos and their partners, released data on Wednesday showing revenues of $24.39 billion between January and May 2022. In a period of economic challenges, that’s a 20.6 percent increase over the same period last year.

A majority of the money in AGA’s data set comes from slots, but sports betting’s increase is particularly striking. At $2.64 billion in the first five months of the year, sports gambling is up 73.5 percent year-over-year in terms of revenue for the industry!

Nevada is still the king among states in gambling revenue with the industry taking in nearly $6 billion of the overall $24.39 billion there so far this year. But other states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, Indiana, Louisiana, and Mississippi also have seen more than a billion dollars spent on gambling in each of their states in the first half of the year, too. That is money the states can (and do) tax.

With all this money flowing, you can see why state and league leaders are interested. But what of the costs? While a Washington Post poll out this month shows nearly two-thirds of Americans are now supportive of sports betting, more than 70 percent are concerned sports games could become rigged. More than 70 percent also worry gambling addiction could grow.

As to that first concern, it could well be yet another area where trust — already in steep decline in our nation — becomes further eroded, especially when we remember that much of the dollars here that industry and state leaders are welcoming are thanks to gambling losses. A Focus on the Family piece on gambling says, “[S]tate-sanctioned gambling is a travesty in that it overturns the God-ordained purpose of government…. It victimizes many people, especially the most vulnerable. It also condones and promotes a vice that has historically been repressed specifically because of its inherent debilitating and corruptive nature.”

Regarding gambling addiction, a recent National Public Radio report suggests that those concerns, too, are well-founded. Speaking of the barrage of sports gambling ads, NPR reporter Joe Hernandez said, “Well, the worry is just that people can’t escape them…. The National Problem Gambling Helpline Network got 270,000 inquiries last year, which was a 45 percent jump over the previous year. So some gambling addiction experts are calling for stricter regulation, things like not appealing to kids and other limits.”

With sports betting on the rise, will you pray for government and league leaders to be wise and discerning? We need them to look beyond the temptation of immediate dollars and to dutifully explore the societal risks of promoting gambling. They need to see that trust in gambling is a bad bet.

What do you think of the new emphasis on sports betting? Share your thoughts and prayers below.

Aaron Mercer is a Contributing Writer with two decades of experience in Washington, D.C.s public policy arena. Photo Credit: Canva.

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Carol
July 16, 2022

All of the people in the history of sports that were fired and/or prosecuted for gambling on sports like Pete Rose, the Mafia, and ordinary citizens all need to be exonerated and their crimes forgiven if now the sports industry wants to legalize gambling on sports! Another slippery slope that may end in hell! FATHER GOD YOUR WORD says that the love of money is the root of all evil! We are really seeing this first hand with the bogus vaccines that only benefited big pharma! Congress that sells out Americans for big money from lobbyists! Now sports wants to sell their players’ abilities for the highest bidder! FATHER GOD only YOU can help us! We pray for REVIVAL to turn men and women to YOU and YOUR WORD and Ways! Lead us not into temptation, but Deliver us from evil in JESUS MIGHTY NAME! Amen!

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Mike
July 16, 2022

More Christians are turning away from professional sports because of high ticket prices, connection with China’s shoe & clothing connections and BLM indoresment .

7
Bobhuseby
July 16, 2022

This amount of money will definitely effect the true draw of competition. As it becomes a legal industry th game itself will unquestionably be effected by it. Our human vices certainly should be restricted by our government or we would live in a-free for all- society. Gambling IS certainly a vice that can destroy families just like unabated sex and drugs have since th beginning of time. Simply put – it is a plan of th enemy!
Father we pray for YOUR wisdom to prevail among our lawmakers considering this .. in our savior Jesus name we pray Amen

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Carolyn Guggenheim
July 16, 2022

It’s not the government’s responsibility to monitor the personal behavior of its citizens. God fearing believers should trust the Lord when it comes to those types of decisions. Gambling like drinking, is a money machine and this world is and always will be lead by it.

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Michaela
July 16, 2022

Heavenly Father, You are our shelter in the midst of this storm! Nothing is impossible for You! Lord we are asking that You intervene in the lives that are broken from the results of addictions of any kind, specifically gambling. We pray for You’re wisdom to be poured out on the one’s making decisions on such easy access for our youth and the adds that bring great temptation to those who already struggle with this addiction! Father God please give families power and strength to overcome the damaging effects of gambling! In Jesus’s most mighty name, we pray! Amen.

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Jannie
July 16, 2022

Heavenly Father I pray against the love of money in our nation. I pray in the name of Jesus that the evil plan of the enemy to ensnare people through gambling and sports betting will be destroyed! I pray that You will stir the hearts of godly players to stand out boldly and rebuke this evil, and that You will intervene and reverse the whole situation. Please forgive us for allowing gambling at all in our country. Sorry, Lord, please forgive us… Please have mercy on us and help our brethren to stay awake and be encouraged to pray, for You are faithful and just and You listen to our cry. Thank You, Lord, in Jesus’ name, amen.

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