Peter Churchman Libertarian Nominee for the 17th District
Victory for Freedom
In a victory for American freedom this week the Supreme Court returned power back to the states in a ruling that ended federal prohibition of sports gambling. It is rare in today’s legislative landscape that states regain power from the federal government. Regardless of the direction one’s moral compass points in respect to sports betting, we should all celebrate this expanding freedom.
Over the years, our federal government has inflated, robbing states of their governing duties. These growing powers, stretching beyond the reaches of constitutional limitations, create many problems. Chief among these being the legal gymnastics required for justification of many federal actions that are not authorized in the Constitution. It is my firm belief that these activities our federal government engages in are unconstitutional and unnecessary. The inherent inefficiency of government makes the free market ideal as regulator of business. The government should express no opinion of how Americans spend their money nor should it interject into sports betting. Government intervention should only occur at the point in which a person or their property (public or private) has been damaged. Government intrusion must be limited to demonstrable instances where people or property have been harmed.
Sunlight, Our Disinfectant
Prohibition leads to many unintended consequences, such as greater corruption, loss of local tax revenue, ineffective regulatory frameworks, and unscrupulous black markets. Legalization will not only lead to innovative sports gambling options, it will increase the accountability of the industry as sunlight shines on industry practices, helping to sanitize societal harm – which includes individual financial ruin and perceived incentivizing of game “fixing” (a predetermined outcome).
The American people have access to an unlimited number of ways to squander their money today. In Texas, legal gambling exists as bingo, horse racing, and the lottery. Recently, poker rooms have emerged in several cities. There already exists a multitude of gambling options, and legalizing sports wagering will not change that. If people want to squander their money today they have a multitude of options, being able to bet on a sporting event will not change that.
Players at any level, college or professional, inclined or coerced to throw a game for financial gain will do so regardless of law. No financial barrier currently exists to stop a player or someone influencing a player from flying to Las Vegas and wagering on a predetermined outcome today. Regulated professional sportsbooks catch corruptive practices and alert authorities of sports gambling improprieties. These sportsbooks have the most to lose and the expertise to identify when a game is being wagered on in an improper or unusual way. When game fixing occurs legal sports books are the ones that alert the government of unfair play. Legalizing gambling will make the industry more fair, not less.
Our right to gamble had been abolished by our federal government, in the pursuit of “our best interest”. Gambling laws, as I’ve laid it out here, do not stop any impropriety in sports or sports wagering. The federal government does not have the constitutional basis or the necessary expertise to regulate gambling. The 10th amendment requires gambling laws to be left to the states, and with this correct decision by the Supreme Court, a small bit of freedom was relinquished back to the people – freedom from federal rule and freedom to spend our money how and where we see fit. We could all use a little bit more freedom.
Peter Churchman can be reached at: