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The other day, a young man was talking to a friend on his smartphone, explaining his system of parlay betting online. I flashed back 20 years to young men playing the market with day-trading software. Back then, wide ownership of personal computers, at work or home, was less than two decades old, and the World Wide Web with graphic interface web browsers was about a decade old. Then and now, people were gambling, hopefully playing with disposable income rather than running up debt or betting the rent. The sporting young man was talking about legal sports betting via smartphone app, and therein lies our tale.
We all know that Pete Rose, one of the greatest baseball players of all time, has been banned from baseball and Cooperstown for betting on baseball. Major League Baseball had a terrible scandal in 1919, when Chicago White Sox players were accused of throwing the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, to benefit a gambling syndicate. The National Football League has occasionally suspended players for up to an entire season, but not personally banned them for betting on their sport and their team. The National Basketball Association had weathered accusations and a serious investigation into a referee fixing games by point-shaving, getting the point difference between the teams to fit a betting position. In 1948, hockey was rocked with a game-fixing investigation that led to the lifetime ban of two star players.
With all that bad history, the leagues struck strong poses against gambling outside Las Vegas and especially online. Congress got into the game with the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, banning sports betting Then times changed. In 2018, the Supreme Court struck down a federal law effectively banning sports bookmaking outside of locations where it was already legal. Justice Alito delivered the 6-3 majority opinion in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association.