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A big mistake?

In the wake of Jontay Porter’s professional basketball ban earlier this month, The Guardian this week declared emphatically that “the legalisation of sports gambling in the US was a mistake.”

In addition to making gambling easier and more accessible, the article argues, legalisation has also removed social stigmas around betting and helped fuel an explosion in increasingly risky behaviours.

“The barrier to entry for sports gambling used to be knowing a bookie and being willing to wager in cash. Then it became being tech-savvy enough to navigate sketchy offshore sites. Now it’s just being 18 years old and having a smartphone and a credit card,” the piece points out.

And the results, as far as the author is concerned, are in. While already wealthy businesses are further enriched by the billions bet by Americans every year, for many the industry has opened the door to a living nightmare, the article suggests.

It points to a survey suggesting that among young male gamblers in the US, 38% say they’re betting more than they should, 19% have lied about the extent of their betting, and 18% have lost money meant to be used to meet their financial obligations.

The figures are stark, and reflect a rapid increase in betting volume stateside, where $120bn was wagered in the regulated market last year.

Another problem with the modern betting industry, the article suggests, is the ability to bet on increasingly specific outcomes within games, while marketers do everything they can to keep betting front-of-mind for their customers.

“Like any drug, gambling activates the brain’s reward system. But most street-level dopamine-peddlers don’t have access to the power of big data,” it says.

As for the future of the sector, the author clearly fears for the integrity and safety of sports moving forward.

“The real threat to sports and the livelihoods of billions of fans lies with the leagues, special interests and media outlets integrating addictive gambling with the games we love,” not with misbehaving athletes, he suggests.

While he makes a compelling case against inviting too much gambling into the fabric of society, one thing appears to be for sure: sports betting is here to stay.

Pass the remote

Elsewhere, The Economist took a closer look at a growing phenomenon taking place amid the recent boom in working from home, “the rise of the remote husband”.

The story examines a curious turnaround in gender relations, as men are now increasingly likely to be able to spend their days at home, while women are more likely to need to go to the workplace to carry out their jobs.

“Men and women still specialise in different kinds of work,” the piece argues, with industries like computer science and engineering disproportionately populated by men, and other jobs such as teaching and nursing overwhelmingly performed by women.

Professions such as law and medicine may still employ more men than women, the piece adds, “but the scales are tipping,” as higher proportions of women now make up the student bodies at medical and law schools.

“As such, among young couples, she is probably more likely to be going to be a lawyer or a doctor than he is.”

The outcome of all this, given that jobs in fields like computer science can often be performed remotely, and roles in medicine in law usually cannot, is that more and more men are staying at home while their wives go out to work.

“This is hardly a gender-swapped 1950s revival,” the author is quick to point out. “The men are still working, after all, not predominantly cooking, cleaning and caring for children.”

While the phenomenon might sound like women are getting “the short end of the stick, that view is myopic,” suggests the article’s author, Nobel laureate Claudia Goldin.

“Couples compromise in all kinds of ways for their lives to work together. If she is offered a big promotion, conditional on moving to Chicago, she may have to turn it down if his job is tied to New York. 

“The geographical liberation of either partner makes it possible for the other to ascend the corporate ladder.”

It seems that ultimately – regardless of the gender of the employee who’s now able to work from home in a given scenario – the author thinks that the rise of remote work is a net positive for men and women alike.

Guess who’s back

While Jontay Porter’s basketball ban was undoubtedly the most talked about sports betting scandal in recent weeks, the Mail Online brought us the story this week of another sports star previously embroiled in his own betting story.

This development was on a slightly more positive note, however, as the NFL has now reinstated Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Isaiah Rodgers, after being suspended in 2023 for gambling on league games the year before.

The league said that 26-year old Rodgers has now been cleared to participate in team activities again.

In response, the NFL player posted footage of himself to social media wearing an Eagles jacket and whispering “I’m back”.

At least 12 NFL players have now been suspended for gambling in recent years, beginning with the 2022 season-long ban of receiver Calvin Ridley.

Readers are encouraged to take a look at this article in its entirety, as it gives a thorough rundown of the infractions that have led to professional bans in recent years.

The rapidly developing phenomenon is enough to make sports fans think that the Guardian article above may have a point – perhaps the legalisation of sports betting across the US was a mistake after all.

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