Chicago Tribune editorial board member Steve Chapman, in a recent opinion piece in the iconic newspaper generally known for its conservative views, has called for the legalization of sports wagering nationwide. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue its decision in the matter by June as it considers New Jersey’s appeal of lower court rulings upholding the 1992 federal law that prohibits states allowing betting on sports.
Chapman writes, “Whom do the feds think they’re kidding anyway? Americans spend an estimated $150 billion a year on illegal sports wagers, which is more than they spend on fast food. The business is fully legal only in Nevada, but the aboveground market makes up just 5 percent of the total.”
He reminds readers that, “Gambling has been around longer than the country itself. British colonists who bet on horse races, cards and cockfights arrived to find Native Americans busy with games of chance. The American Revolution was financed in part by a lottery, for heaven’s sake.”
According to Chapman, die-hard opponents see all gambling as a menace, but the vast majority of players are perfectly capable of moderation.
He concludes, “If Americans want to bet on sports, the wise course for the government is to let them. Prohibitionists think gamblers squander precious time and money on a foolish fantasy they will never achieve. Well, look who’s talking.”
Chapman has been a member of the Chicago Tribune editorial board since 1981 and attended Harvard University, graduating with honors in 1976.