The Effects of the Gambling Industry On Sports & Athletes

The Effects of the Gambling Industry On Sports & Athletes


The Effects of the Gambling Industry On Sports & Athletes


Sportsbooks and casinos have been one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the past few decades. The multi-billion industry is widespread on a global level, and it seems that it keeps on growing. With the emerging of internet casinos and sportsbooks, a new online gambling world appeared, making gambling accessible and more popular than ever. 

Moreover, gambling is becoming legalized all around the world at incredible speed. As a matter of fact, 18 US states legalized some form of gambling in the past few years. Indeed, governments, as well as sports and health organizations, are doing all they can to design useful antigambling laws to protect the public. 

But they are also doing this to maintain sporting competition legitimacy and preserve its integrity. But, to what extent does the gambling industry affect sports and athletes? So, let’s go into greater detail about it in the text below.

Feb 17, 2020; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames starting lineup stands prior to a game against the Anaheim Ducks at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Gambling Schemes in General

The initial goal of sports betting was to make the sports competition even more entertaining, and of course to monetize it. However, soon enough placing bets, enjoying the competition and having fun turned into tons of gambling schemes and scandals. Some of those schemes were conducted by bookies, sometimes even athletes or whole teams. 

The world of sports was slowly losing its genuine value and even more than that. The effect gambling has on sports can be ruinous, as the scandals caused by the gambling industry can be quite off-putting for the fans. Having a big and strong fan base is of extreme importance for any sport.

The Effect of Gambling Schemes on Athlete’s Future

Moreover, teams and athletes involved in such acts will not only be suspended from competing, but they can lose much more. This can cost them an important sponsorship or possibly their career. In cases where students get involved in such schemes, it can leave a permanent mark on their carer and life. 

Having a criminal record is not something to wish for if you have great plans for the future. Or at least any plans. This can affect aspirations towards a professional sports career, and also make an impact on any other career choice. To be precise, there are careers you can say goodbye to if you don’t have a clean criminal record. This goes for teachers, doctors, law enforcement careers, finance careers, and any position in a government. Another negative side of it is not being able to get a loan, buy a home, or even rent one. 

How Does it Impact Society in General?

Sports betting and gambling in general does affect our society. Nowadays, any type of gambling is considered as purely entertaining, even if it can have quite a damaging effect on both society and an individual. Living in a culture where gambling is normalized and its effects minimalized is a part of the Internet era we are living in.  

Once when sports gambling was predominantly illegal around the globe, the law restrictions still couldn’t affect its popularity. During the second half of the 20th century, many countries and nations started considering legalization. However, the corruption that comes with it was apparently a big problem and it was an “obligatory” part of the industry. 

Those who were in favour of legalized betting though that along with strict regulation and laws, corruption wouldn’t be an issue. Sports wagering was legalized in the UK in 1960, and the US had federal and state law issues. On the US territory, different betting and gambling types were legalized in different areas. 

The first reduction of legal taxes in 1983 made sportsbook popular in the US, while the supreme court decision to lift the ban in 2018 made it the topic of the day. In some European countries such as Germany, gambling profits are used for sponsoring amateur sports and athletes. 

The Economic Effect

In addition, the economic effects this industry has on society has changed over the past few years. With so many areas legalizing different forms of gambling, the labour market must be affected. New job positions in the casino industry are becoming available and the employment rate in the igaming industry has skyrocketed. 

Not to mention the addictive effect of casinos and sportsbooks on society. People that are in too deep can easily get tricked by the powerful gambling mechanism and lose all they have. This addiction is known for ruining families, companies, leaving the gamblers penniless and often in need of psychiatric help. 

When the Industry Gets Corrupted 

When professional sports competitions started blooming in the 19th century, the greatest fear was that it will all be corrupted by betting. The chance to earn money quickly was what made sports betting and sports events corrupted, Sports industry was simply very fertile ground for various criminal actions, and it was all bound to happen. 

Many schemes and scandals resulted from it, creating major issues in the sports world. 

As bettors usually assume that the events aren’t fixed and that the teams and individual athletes are giving their best to win, any sign of fraudulent actions harmed sports badly. Bribing players to lose intentionally or make ceratin mistakes have led to scandals such as the Black Sox Scandal, and MLB game-fixing scandal that echoed for quite some time. Eight people from Chicago White Sox were charged for fixing the 1919 World Series.

Gambling was legalized in Nevada in 1931 and it included sports betting for some period as well. Later on, during the 50s, college basketball in the US started being infamous for its corruption scandals. Some of the most corrupted sports in the following years and probably up till today were soccer or football, and professional boxing. 

All of the above-mentioned sports have been linked with various organized crime syndicates. Organized crime in the sports gambling industry reached its peak in this US state in the 50s, when it was banned again. Later on, in 1975 wagering on sports events was strictly regulated and licensed. 

Sports Betting Scandals

Sports betting had caused numerous scandals in the world of sports. Naturally, it was something that had a negative effect on the whole sports industry. Talking about it, sports betting cheating scandals could happen in various different ways. 

  • Match-fixing
  • Spot-fixing
  • Point-shaving

Match-fixing happens when the general result of any sports match is fixed. These are usually hardly noticeable, and you can spot that it is fixed only if you are a great sports connoisseur.  Those who have been paying close attention to the match, as well as analyzing the previous performance of a team or athlete can spot odd playing. Once the performance drop of a team on a winning streak suddenly happens it can be a sign of match-fixing.

Spot-fixing is more of an individual thing and this is a perfect way to fix a player’s performance or any other specific aspect of a game. This might not be that obvious unless the player is quite good. Noticing a change in a single athlete’s performance is tough, especially if the sport in question is not individual. Besides, spot-fixing can sometimes happen in a different scenario – where the officials make a “haste” decision during the match. 

Point-shaving usually happens in organized sports and it is connected to spread betting. Most players who engage in point-shaving often miss shots to intentionally affect the score. The goal is to stop a team at their attempt to cover a certain point spread created by sportsbooks. 

Most Notorious Sports Betting Scandals

Sep 10, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) and forward Anthony Davis (3) celebrate after defeating the Houston Rockets in game four of the second round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Here are some of the most famous scandals in the world of sports and sports betting:


Apart from the previously mentioned 1919 World Series MLB game-fixing scandal, there are many other sports scandals related to the gambling industry. When speculations about former Cincinnati Reds manager, Pete Rose’s, the 80s betting on Reds leaked, this baseball gambling scandal got him banned from MLB. In 1989 MLB announced an investigation of his suspicious actions. 


Another great scandal includes the former NBA referee Timothy Francis Donaghy, better known as Tim Donaghy. He resigned from NBA in 2007 after the FBI conducted an investigation concerning his gambling. Apparently, Donaghy used to bet on games he officiated in the last two seasons he spent in NBA. 

The allegations against the accused also stated that he dictated point-shaving to affect the point spread. Regardless of the amount of money in the game, a lot was at stake for Tim Donaghy, and he eventually let it all slide out of his hands.


Throwing the game in a professional league such as NFL is not easy, but that doesn’t stop the bettors and fans from thinking that tit actually happens here and there. Namely, some claim that NFL referees miss calls and penalties on purpose. Even if this was a league that used to get away from sports betting, something changed in the 80s. 

From then on, scandals such as the one including Roxy Roxborough point spreads fixing, Dan Marino motorcycle accident the day before a big game, or Bernie Kosar missing a game due to a holiday. These stories all seem like gibberish and something no one would believe, which is precisely why they ended up being exposed.


College athletes are usually struggling financially or they just need some additional cash, which is what makes the college system convenient for such deeds. College basketball is filled with bribing and fixing scandals. And while today you can get bonus codes for 20 free spins and win some cash online, you couldn’t do that in 1987- which was the year of a popular point-shaving scheme that took place at Boston College. 

The names involved in the scandal were Tony Perla, Rocco Perla, Henry Hill, and Rick Kuhn. In short, the Perla brothers bribed Rick Kuhn to conduct a basketball scheme while playing for the NCAA league. They wanted to make sure that the Bostom College Eagles would not win by the required margin.

Moreover, student-athletes are one of the most common targets of gambling organized crime syndicates. Just like nowadays students love to gamble at online casinos they can find at, 90s students loved to it, too. Only in person. Another student-athlete, Stevin Smith, bribed to throw a couple of games in 1994 was given $80,000. The case was closed after three of the participants served their time in jail. 

Horse Racing

Programmers hacking and manipulating systems to get rich doesn’t necessarily happen only in movies. Chris Harn, who is a programmer, along with Glen DaSilva and Derrick Davis managed to manipulate bets for the 2002 Breeders’ Cup. the Cup was held in Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, in Illinois. 

Each bettor was supposed to get $1 million, but, unfortunately for them, they ended up being exposed. The odds for the racer were 43-to-1 which made the programmer win an enormous amount of cash and which also made the situation suspicious.


Despite legalization in many places internationally, gambling scandals continue to exist, and so does the corruption in the sports world. This has a great impact on society’s stance towards sports, and it is something that consequently affects the sport itself – no matter what sport we are analyzing. 

When bettors or sports fans see their favourite athletes missing calls and doing who knows what on the field (intentionally) they cannot unsee it. And it will leave permanent consequences on the sport or league or even an individual athlete. Apart from the apparent legal measures taken against crimes such as gambling schemes, this too can lead to its doom.

Author’s Bio 

Leslie Alexander, a content writer and a formal professional content editor, has been a part of the Gamblizard team for years now. Leslie’s special superpower is creating superb gambling content loved by her readers. As a matter of fact, she crafted some of our best and most-read articles. This one you are reading ATM is her latest contribution to this blog.

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