Betting could soon come to Bison football and more

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Posted 7/17/18 (Tue)

Passing Dreams
By Steve Andrist

What would you do if you had a spare $16.4 million? More to the point, how would you help your community or state and the people in it if you had $16.4 million in spare change?
For most any of us, $16.4 million is real money.
To those in and around New Jersey, it’s the amount wagered on sports betting – in two weeks. That’s the first two weeks after sports betting became legal in New Jersey, following a U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down a 25-year-old federal law known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that largely outlawed sports betting outside Nevada.
It’s prior to the opening of sports betting at Meadowlands Racetrack, which because of its proximity to the city is expected to be the most lucrative location for sports betting in that state.
The SCOTUS decision is about to create a huge new industry in our county. For some reason, people go goo-goo over gambling, and if they’re willing to part with $16.4 million in one state in a two-week period, imagine how much will be shelled out over the course of a year once more states decide to get in on the action by taxing sports bets.
The book on Alabama vs. Georgia in the national championship football game will be unfathomable. You can bet they’ll also be taking odds when North Dakota State makes its next stop in the FCS title game.
The Supreme Court decision, from a legal standpoint, was probably the correct one. The majority said that Congress can regulate sports gambling if it wants, but if it chooses not to, states can do it themselves.
The result is that states are now free to pass laws that permit betting on everything from the Class B Basketball Tournament to NDSU football to University of North Dakota hockey.
What will North Dakota do?
The odds are good that sometime next winter, when legislators return to Bismarck for the 2019 session, someone will introduce a bill that will open up sports betting in the state.
They’ll say it’ll be a good source of revenue for the state when it needs money most. They’ll say it’s recreation adults should be able to participate in if they choose. They’ll say mobile betting will soon be up and running, so North Dakotans will be betting anyway, but the revenues will be going elsewhere.
Another perspective is that sports already occupy a disproportionately large place in our gross national product. Or, that more betting will take money out of the pockets of people who can least afford it. Or, that there really is no positive impact to society, just a redistribution of wealth, often removing it from people living on limited incomes.
There is little to be gained from opening up sports betting in our state – even in our country.
But since it’s going to happen, what would be your threshold of tolerance?
Would it be OK to allow charitable groups to run betting on North Dakota district basketball tournaments or football playoff games?
Would it be OK to allow casinos in the state to take bets on college football and basketball and hockey games?
Would it be OK to have a state-approved system for wagering on the Twins, the Timberwolves, or Carson Wentz’s Eagles?
Remember, of course, that all gambling is based on rules that allow the house to win and to take a bunch of cash from a lot of people in order to give it to a few. That’s the lure. Everyone hopes to be among the few. The vast majority are not.

Overreach
How fast do you drive on the Interstate Highway system? In North Dakota, the speed limit is 75, but surveys suggest most people drive closer to 80.
My wife isn’t one of them. She thinks 72 or 73 is fast enough. More speed than that is less safe, she says. Plus, the faster you go, the more fuel you use.
Fortunately, she didn’t get pulled over recently when she cruised through Jamestown at 72 en route to Fargo.
It happened not long ago to a St. Paul man, who raised a deputy’s suspicions when he was going 73 down I-94. So the deputy pulled up alongside the man. Which caused the driver to do such suspicious things as hold his hands at 10 o’clock, 2 o’clock on the wheel and avoid making eye contact with cop driving beside him.
It all caused the deputy to flip on his lights and pull the driver over.
The stop resulted in the deputy finding a bootsy full of marijuana in the back of the driver’s pickup.
Too bad, said the judge. In this country you just can’t pull someone over for driving two miles an hour under the limit, driving with your hands in the position that driver ed teachers recommend, and being nervous enough to avoid eye contact with the law.
If you could, officers could stop anyone they wanted any time they wanted.
Thanks, judge. I didn’t want to find bail money for my light-footed wife.