Staff Editorial – Sports betting: the deck is stacked against you

Staff Editorial

Sept. 23, 2021

With the simple tap of a phone, it’s never been easier to order groceries, buy textbooks, find an apartment, browse for new cars, buy a new wardrobe — or develop a serious gambling addiction. 

With sites like FanDuel and DraftKings, nearly anyone can quickly and easily place monetary bets on a wide range of sporting events in the new world of online sports betting. Advertisers for these companies claim that “anyone can win” and “play free for millions.” 

While these offers sound incredibly enticing, the unwavering accessibility of these apps, coupled with their intentionally addictive design has opened up a slew of problems for users. 

In 2018, the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a piece of legislation that was designed to grant federal regulation over online sports betting. Now, as a result, each individual state has crafted their own rules on sports betting and how it fits into the world of high-stakes, legal gambling. In Pennsylvania, online sports betting is perfectly legal. 

Long story short: Sports betting is gambling, and it can have the same devastating effects on a person’s livelihood.   

In a 2015 investigation conducted by McKiney&Co., the risk to reward ratio for daily fantasy sports (DFS) in one MLB season was analyzed. The most notable findings included a staggering statistic quickly disproving the “anyone can win anytime” theory. 

“In the first half of the 2015 MLB season, 91% of DFS player profits were won by just 1.3% of players.” 

Although these numbers show that only the top 1% of players can realistically win, the emphasis in advertising the thrill of winning easily hooks users, with many often not realizing the amount of money they have spent betting. 

In the same way that casino chips can disassociate players from how much money they are gambling with, sports betting apps use numbers, graphics and icons to separate the user from the notion that they are spending their actual, real money. 

On top of this, the American Psychiatric Association says that youth gambling rates are on the rise with 10-15% of young people (ages 14-21) having significant gambling problems. Experts also say this estimate is likely too low since many young people feel they can’t ask for help when a gambling problem spirals out of control. 

The pervasiveness and intuitive design of daily fantasy and other sports betting apps have made it easier than ever for young people to begin betting, raising the chance they will become addicted. 

With the deck clearly stacked against users, it’s best to cut the losses and step away from online sports betting.