Pools, Parlays, and Point Spreads: A Sociological Consideration of the Legalization of Sports Gambling

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Garry J. Smith University of Alberta

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The legalization of sports gambling has recently become a major social policy issue in some North American jurisdictions. Unfortunately, there are few guiding principles to help policymakers in their deliberations. This paper presents a synopsis of the main practical and moral arguments for and against sports gambling. The discussion of the consequences of legalizing sports gambling follows a sociological overview that emphasizes the scope, growth, and appeal of the activity. The concluding section examines the future of sports gambling: why legalization appears inevitable, the formats legalized sports gambling may take, and where in North America the enabling legislation is most likely to surface.

Garry J. Smith is with the Department of Physical Education and Sport Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2H9.

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