Gamifying Sports — Sports Betting & its Implications.

Adel Alaali
3 min readAug 2, 2022


Gambling is older than its close cousin, the futures market, yet ironically unlike the latter, sports betting has been banned in the United States since 1992. Industry participation was stymied by the Professional and Amateur Protection Act— a law dating 1992 that forbade the lower 49 states (with the exception of Nevada) [1] from sports gambling. Once considered taboo industry, today sports gambling is legal in 30 states — an effort duley imparted by New Jersey’s lobbying efforts. Moreover, it is predicted that 50 million Americans will participate in a wager this year, accounting for roughly 20% of the American adult population. Ironically, football is America’s favorite past time, thus making gambling our favorite vice. Per PRNewswire, the sports gambling subindustry is expected to realize a $106.5 billion market cap by 2025.

To contextualize sports betting’s meteoric growth, Bitcoin took nine years to surpass a 100bn market cap, having occured in 2017. [3]

Although becoming a pro football player or team owner may be out of the realm of one’s possibility, the ability to participate as one is gamified via betting and fantasy teams. As a result, the industry has the opportunity to convert casual viewers into beloving fans as gambling and sporting events become synonymous.

As football NFL viewership and popularity increase, one can also expect an increase in gambling. But, transversely, the gambling market is a cash intensive industry, thus privy to market-forces, such as industry-specific recessions. Ironically, unlike gambiling, spectator viewership would be unaffected. Therefore, as an investor, be weary of cash-flows oddities, high leverage and notable capital expenditure.

It can be argued that sports gambling participants may misconstrue the speculative nature of gambling as — erm — ‘an investment’. The misunderstanding could extend itself to becoming financially devastating to families and communities — particularly in areas where fiscal education is not taught. Speculatively, a financially illiterate population, the ubiquitous presence of sporting, and the easy access to mobile gambling could potentiate addiction rates and further poverty. Furthermore, this would add economic constraints to local and state economies, as crime, mental illness and poverty parallel welfare/subsidized state programs. Taxation spawns black market industry. And, simular to the cannabis industry, if the state over taxes gambling proceeds, one can expect a thriving under-market. Fighting fire with fire never works, and an anemic application to social awareness will further policing issues and welfare funding.

On the other hand, supply always meet demand — regardless of regulation. Thus legal restrictions work in veil, and per natures dictum, banned substances/activities persist homage in the illicit markets. Black markets follow industry that are privy to high-taxes or lawfully banned. Unfortunately, today, social purism has stigmatized gambling, relegating it to the shadowy black markets. Accordingly, this then segues to violent crime, as underground organizations cannot leverage the legal system to enforce contractual obligations. For example, suppose a bookie lost money on a deficit ‘john’; what is he to do? The legal system would not help recuperate his contract, since his proceeds come from illicit activity. Thus, presumably the bookie would have to resort to enforcing his accord. Unfortunately, recuperating gambling debts sometimes involve forced coercion or even indentured servitude. However, and fortunately, the new legal market forgoes most of the black-market misgivings (for now).

Hypothetically, let’s suppose the gaming industry adopted big-tobacco’s advertising methodology thus encouraging teenagers to gamble their hard earned money. Call a spade a spade. Encouraging the youth to addictive things is a bad thing. Advertisers have a history of being exploitive, so — it would be interesting to see future case study respective to sporting gamification. Till then, let's see how the transition from black to white market fare.

Adios! — — Adel Al-Aali


[1] Cornell University: Professional and Amateur Sports Protection

[2] MarketWatch: Supreme Court Opens Door To Sports Betting Across The Nation.

[3] PRNewswire: Sports Betting Market Size to Grow by 106.5 Bn 2025

[4] Forbes: Bitcoins Marketcap is now More than 100-Billion