Sports gambling a win-win for Indiana

What’s the easiest way to overcome a persistent crime?

Make it legal.

That’s one of the reasons why the state legislature moved swiftly this year to legalize sports gambling after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in May 2018 a federal law forbidding its spread.

Basically, Hoosiers who really wanted to gamble on sports were doing it anyway, and few were being penalized or prosecuted.

The state legislature had other good reasons to legitimize sports gambling, which is already underway and will be widespread at casinos and off-track betting sites across the state well before the end of the month. At Hoosier Park Racing & Casino here in Anderson, sports betting will begin Sept. 19 after the completion of a sports betting lounge.

Legalizing the practice for practically all sports, except high school and youth, also enables the state to regulate it, meaning sports bettors in Indiana can have greater confidence that their winning bets will pay off, that it’s safe to place them and you won’t be breaking the law.

It will also make it easier to place bets on sports events. Soon, you’ll be able to download an app onto your phone and wager from the device — as long as you’re inside the state’s borders.

Perhaps the No. 1 reason to legalize sports gambling in Indiana is tax revenue. The state received no cut from illegal sports gambling but stands to rake in millions of dollars now.

A portion of the money will be earmarked for Indiana’s Division of Mental Health and Addiction, helping to address the major concern of gambling addiction. Whenever state-sponsored gambling is expanded, the possibilities for stoking addiction increase.

The direct and rippling economic impact of legal sports gambling in Indiana could be huge, about $1.7 billion in the first five years, according to a 2018 analysis by a gambling research firm in California.

Indiana’s growing reliance on tax revenue from gambling is cause for long-range concern, given that more surrounding states have been following Indiana’s lead in adopting various forms of gambling. This will ultimately beget increased competition and will cut into Indiana’s piece of the action.

Overall, though, legalized sports wagering is a win-win for Hoosiers.

And a win-win is something all gamblers can appreciate.