Friday, November 14, 2014

The smart bet

I am not a betting man. Let's get that out there from the jump.

I've never seen the wisdom/thrill of putting money on the nose of a dog or a horse, because, let's face it, they're dogs and horses. And I think it's utter madness to risk your paycheck on a bunch of goofy college kids (because they're goofy college kids) or a bunch of professional football, basketball or baseball players (because their seasons all last forever and you never know which day or night they're gonna decide to conserve energy in deference to the long haul).

I've never really gotten poker, either. Card games bore me generally, first of all. Plus, casinos will throw you out for employing what seems to me to be poker's most measurable skill -- i.e., being able to keep track of what's been played and what's still out there. So what's the point?

Shoot. The last time I went to Vegas, I took the airport shuttle to the MGM Grand, strolled through the place, finally sat down and fed $5 worth of quarters into a slot machine. It took me about five minutes. Yawn.

All that said ... I think NBA commissioner Adam Silver is as right as sunscreen in Tahiti about this.

I think it's well past time for the 1992 law making it illegal to bet on sporting events in all but four states to go the way of the Model T and the eight-track. Because in  a very real sense, it already has.

People bet on college and professional sports all the time, everywhere. The law, as far as I can see, isn't stopping anybody. Might as well make it legal, regulate it and collect taxes on it.

Besides, the major sports leagues are all complicit in it, anyway. Until Silver spoke up ("Look, guys, the emperor's naked, anyway," is pretty much the gist), it was almost comical to hear the NFL in particular utter the standard refrain about gambling. Then it would turn around and mandate that every team issue a public injury report each week.

Who's that for if not the gamblers? Come on, people.

And so you've got a culture that consistently ignores the law, with the de facto aid of the leagues themselves and the not-at-all-de-facto aid of the media. Or maybe you thought all the newspapers around the country (including here) that routinely run betting odds were doing it simply to fill white space.

Look. No one's saying here that gambling can't be destructive. It's an addictive behavior, or can be, that has ruined hundreds of lives and destroyed hundreds of families. But making it illegal isn't going to keep that from happening -- especially when the government itself is in the gambling business in such a big way.

Or maybe you didn't hear about the guy from Pig Knuckle, Arkansas, who just won $8 million in the Ohio or Indiana or Michigan or whatever lottery.

And then, no doubt, phoned his bookie in Vegas and had him put 10 large on the Packers to cover the 2 1/2.


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