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Why Major League Sports Are Freaking Out About a New Attempt to Legalize Betting on Their Games

Would league sports support gambling if they could profit from it?

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So how is legalized sports gambling supposed to alter that legacy? Haven’t each league’s respective anti-gambling rules worked perfectly? Well over 50 years have elapsed since professional sports (admittedly) witnessed a fixed game, despite the fact that throughout this time, organized crime has overseen the illegal sports gambling empire in the United States. If the mafia hasn’t fixed a game, how would a state-run operation suddenly lead to widespread point shaving? Will players and referees no longer follow league rules? Will gamblers suddenly decided to bet vast amounts on fixed games within a tightly controlled and monitored legal sports gambling institution?

Here’s the truth of the matter: The leagues have to maintain this anti-gambling stance for simple public relations reasons. In this manner, should anything on par with the NBA’s Tim Donaghy scandal again arise, the league(s) can claim with a straight face, “We did all we could to prevent this from happening. We have stood against legalized gambling. We have rules in place. We have investigative divisions. Yet this scandal still occurred. But we have rooted out the problem and will move forward.”

Despite the leagues anti-gambling argument, they really aren’t 100 percent against state-sponsored gambling. NFL, NHL, and MLB teams have allowed their team logos to be incorporated in state lottery scratch-off tickets. The Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins, Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns are all featured on lottery tickets. The Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins were lottery partners as well. So, too, are the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, and Los Angeles Dodgers among other MLB teams.

Why? Because the leagues can profit from this situation (and even though team season tickets are one of the prizes offered in these lotteries, none of this gambling is related to actual game results). If they could somehow profit off of legalized sports gambling, it’s likely the leagues’ stance would instantly change to a pro-gambling position.

But until that time, the leagues will continue to trot out these well-worn excuses for why sports gambling should remain illegal despite a public want for its legalization.

However, should New Jersey win its legal battle against the sports leagues, be ready for the sports gambling floodgates to open. California has already passed legislation to legalize it, and other states with casino gambling and horse tracks will also follow suit.

And then we can see if any of the leagues’ arguments really hold water.

Brian Tuohy is the author of The Fix Is In: The Showbiz Manipulations of the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NASCAR. He is the nation's leading authority on game fixing and maintains the popular website His second book tentatively titled Larceny Games: Sports Gambling, Game Fixing, and the FBI is due out in 2013.