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Sharper Point: Should Arizona take a chance on sports gambling?

(AP Photo)

After the Supreme Court ruled that individual states can now permit sports betting, the question on everybody’s lips seems to be: Will Vegas-style sports gambling be coming to Arizona? 

Probably. But don’t ask me what the odds are. (Sorry, that won’t happen again.) 

Gov. Doug Ducey called the SCOTUS decision positive news and said it “… gives Arizona options that could benefit our citizens and general fund.” 

Despite those happy words, all bets are off (No, really, that’s the last pun.) as to whether or not a sports book is in Fort McDowell’s future. 

That’s because a couple of different groups of people in Arizona really don’t want it here. 

They’ll tell you that they’re opposed to sports gambling in Arizona for different reasons , but, pretty much, all their reasons are rooted in a distrust of people. 

And that includes you. 

First, some background: The law that the Supreme Court struck down was signed by President George H. W. Bush in 1992. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) essentially said that the states weren’t allowed to offer the kind of sports wagering that you currently see in Nevada. 

Hey! Wait a second! So how come the feds let them do it in Vegas and Reno but not in Phoenix and Tucson? 

Well, that’s because the law grandfathered in the one state that already allowed sports betting: Nevada. 

That’s not fair and the state of New Jersey didn’t take this lying down. They sued the federal government, arguing that PASPA was a violation of the 10th Amendment. 

The Supreme Court agreed and so do I. 

But this is more about individual rights than states’ rights for me. 

An individual’s right to gamble is why I disagree with the folks from the group I will call the “Sports Purists.” 

The Sports Purists worry that sports betting will ruin sports. They argue that it’ll be too tempting for athletes to throw a game when their Uncle Wally has a few thousand dollars riding on it at Casino Arizona. 

What they’re really arguing though, is that they don’t trust athletes. And that a few athletes who might not be able to control themselves should control the rights of all Arizonans to gamble. 

Then, there’s the group I’ll dub the “Moral Purists.” They think that sports betting isn’t good for my everlasting soul. 

While I appreciate their concern for my ability to reach an afterlife, I don’t appreciate them acting like my mom and dad. 

I earned my money. I’m an adult who should be able to choose how I spend my (not their) money. 

By the way, I lived in Reno in my early 20s, so I also earned my belief that gambling is not what I should spend my money on. 

But that doesn’t mean I don’t gamble. I just don’t it in a casino, at a racetrack or with a bookie. I do it on Wall Street. Isn’t buying stocks that may – or may not – go up, also a form of gambling? 

Do the Moral Purists also want that kind of gambling banned? 

I sure hope not, because without those investments, I wouldn’t bet on being able to afford to retire before I head to that afterlife. 


Arizona's Morning News