Ruden: It’s time to legalize sports betting in Iowa

Sports betting could be legal in the state of Iowa soon, and it should be.

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Ruden: It’s time to legalize sports betting in Iowa

Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby (2) and quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) congratulate each other after the game as the Green Bay Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys 34-31 in the NFL Divisional Playoff game on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017 in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby (2) and quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) congratulate each other after the game as the Green Bay Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys 34-31 in the NFL Divisional Playoff game on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017 in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

TNS

Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby (2) and quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) congratulate each other after the game as the Green Bay Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys 34-31 in the NFL Divisional Playoff game on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017 in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

TNS

TNS

Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby (2) and quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) congratulate each other after the game as the Green Bay Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys 34-31 in the NFL Divisional Playoff game on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017 in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

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Once upon a time, there stood a newly minted 21-year-old who had the chance to take on Las Vegas for the first time since turning the legal gambling age. At that time, he was introduced to the world of sports betting.

Despite Green Bay Packer kicker Mason Crosby missing 4 field goals and an extra point, losing the new 21-year-old $20 in the process, the young man walked away with a grand total of $10 gained from sports betting that weekend.

He had a vested interest in each game, making the experience of watching sports different from doing it for recreation. It was fun.

There are certainly dangers that come with legalizing sports betting, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. There are also plenty of benefits.

In Iowa, a legislator has introduced a bill to legalize sports betting, but it has not passed; the legislative window closed without a vote.

Regardless of sports betting’s legality, people are going to partake, whether betting on sites such as Bovada or BetDSI, finding an underground sports book, or having friends who are in states where it is legal to make bets. It’s a thriving business already.

Remember Prohibition? (I don’t; I’m not that old.) When certain things are illegal that have previously been legal in places, people will be more inclined to indulge in the act whether it’s currently legal or not.

Just as people drank in speakeasies and bought moonshine from bootleggers, people are going to find ways to place bets.

It’s not like gambling in other ways isn’t already legal. Casinos, lotteries, and horse races have long been prevalent, and their pros and cons have both been well-documented. Adding sports betting to that list would not necessarily be a bad thing.

People have their reasons for putting bets down. Why make them feel like criminals for betting on sports when they can already lurk around casinos looking for ways to make money?

It will also be good for the economy. Now, I’m no business major, but according to Forbes, sports betting could bring in $6.03 billion annually by the year 2023. I’d say that’s pretty good.

The money it would bring in — along with the jobs sports betting would create — would only mean good things for the country.

No matter what happens, though, one thing is for sure: If sports betting is legalized in Iowa, it will change the way people view and think about sports.

While some people will not be very affected by the change because of previous gambling in one way or another, sports fans will have their passion linked to betting more than it already is.

The leagues will have a grand opportunity to brand themselves even more when it comes to gambling.

Again, there are positives and negatives to legalizing sports betting, as there are with everything else. But if there are ways to educate people about it and eliminate the dangers as much as possible, there’s no reason to keep the act underground.

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