Whenever sporting authorities and organisations discuss regulated betting, they seem to refer to it as an evil that must be banished at all costs. This is a strange and rather old-fashioned stance, however, and one that fails to recognise how technological advancement can help to regulate sports betting in the modern age and encourage it responsibly.
The latest sport to be scrutinised is MMA, with the UFC having come out in public support of the expanding regulated sports betting in the United States during recent weeks.
While this should come as no surprise, the response of federal judge Michael Shipp and other public officials has raised eyebrows. After New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed legislation repealing the state’s once universal ban on sports gambling, Shipp responded by issuing a restraining order that prevented local racetracks and casinos from processing match and in-play bets. There are at least four major sporting organisations believed to be behind this move, as they execute a misguided attempt to avoid match-fixing and wider corruption.
There are two immediately obvious floors with this movement. The first is that the notion that legalised gambling increases the likelihood of match fixing, as this ignores the fact that sports betting has always been a popular past-time in the U.S. regardless of its standing with the law. This means that match-fixing remains a constant risk of competitive, top-level sports, and it may even be argued that legalising sports betting creates greater transparency the opportunity to introduce more stringent regulations.
This is certainly the stance taken by the UFC, and their representatives clearly believe that the legalisation of sports betting will help to create a more open and honest sport. Given the popularity and status of the UFC and mixed martial arts in the U.S., this can only be good news for fans, organisers and the competitors themselves.