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U.S. attorney needs to shut down sports betting

Geoff Grammer recently wrote a (column) in the (Aug. 18) Albuquerque Journal extolling the benefits of the Isleta Casino accepting bets on Lobo and Aggie games. He pointed out a specific example of a player shaving points in a basketball game, taking money, and being caught by federal prosecutors because of the transparency of legalized sports betting.

Grammer indicates that expanding sports gambling to the Lobo and Aggie games would actually reduce the possibility of player point shaving and other illegal activity. His sources for this comforting information are employees at Westgate Resorts and MGM, gambling industry hacks. It’s a shame Grammer didn’t research crime reports around the world related to legalized sports betting.

Europol, the joint police body of the European Union, investigated the possibility of major soccer games being fixed and found evidence of over 680 “suspicious games” in five continents over a three-year period, including a Champions League match in England and several World Cup qualifying matches. According to one German investigator, this widespread corruption is “on a scale and in a way that threatens the very fabric of the game.”

The same is true for professional tennis. Tennis has been engulfed by a “tsunami” of corruption involving “serious and substantial” match-fixing. A survey of 3,200 players at all levels of the professional game found that 14.5% had first-hand knowledge of match-fixing – 464 players in total.

Expanding the scope of sports betting means more people will gamble more money. That means that there will be much more money available for bribing athletes. A player may resist a $500 or $3,000 bribe but might be more tempted if offered $30,000.

To illustrate how perverse sports betting is becoming, recent articles spotlighted sports betting on the Little League Baseball World Series in Hawaii. Japanese teams are favored in the sports books. Asserting that all this exposure to big money won’t corrupt the sports is self-serving nonsense. We all instinctively know that.

The sports-betting operators are not just offering betting on the outcome of games, but offer play-by-play opportunities to bet. Will LeBron James make a 3-pointer in the next 30 seconds? Will Kevin Durant steal the ball back in the next 60 seconds? No longer will the interest in sports focus on teamwork, sportsmanship, courage or spirit. Money will be the driving force and overwhelming focus of the game.

Also, sports betting is not even legal in New Mexico. A close reading of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act reveals that tribes can only offer forms of gambling legal to all other parties in the state, which the Legislature has not allowed. It’s time for the U.S. Attorney to shut down illegal sports betting at tribal casinos.

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