Professor Tim Davis featured in WalletHub study about sports gambling trends

Photo of Professor Tim Davis

Professor Tim Davis is one the country’s best known sports law scholars.

Professor Tim Davis was featured in the WalletHub article, “2016′s Most Gambling-Addicted States,” by Richie Bernardo.  The article analyzes and discusses states’ gambling trends and laws.  It also includes a study that uses data collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, the American Gaming Association, National Council on Problem Gambling and more.

In the article, the study’s main findings and methodology are outlined, and a number of graphics and tables are included.  Professor Davis was interviewed about sports gambling among nine other experts in the ”Ask the Experts” section.  His interview, as well as the body of the article, follow.

Gambling exists in every state — even Hawaii and Utah, where gambling is prohibited by law — but not everyone gambles the same. First, there are “recreational” or “social” gamblers who might, for instance, buy the occasional scratcher, take the rare casino trip or bet small stakes in fantasy sports. But they also possess the mental capacity to quit at any point and prevent catastrophic financial loss. Then there are “professional” gamblers — the likes of math genius Edward Thorp and high-stakes sports bettor Bill Krackomberger — who gamble well enough to make a living out of it while separating work from personal life.

But when the business or pleasure gets out of control, gambling becomes a real medical condition. Gambling disorder, as the affliction is known, affects slightly more than 2 percent of all U.S. adults. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Gambling can stimulate the brain’s reward system much like drugs such as alcohol can, leading to addiction.”

That addiction can lead to serious economic consequences. On a societal level, compulsive gambling costs an estimated $6 billion per year, according to a study by the National Council on Problem Gambling. Individually, a male gambling addict accumulates an average debt between $55,000 and $90,000 whereas a female averages $15,000, by one estimate. Most do not have adequate resources to pay back what they owe. As a result, gambling addicts develop a high tendency to amass even more debt, suffer from other health issues, lose their jobs, strain their relationships or even commit crimes.

The gambling problem, however, is much bigger in some states than in others. With the upcoming Kentucky Derby reminding Americans to have fun while keeping their gambling habits in check, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states to determine where the problem of excessive gambling is most prevalent. Our data set of 13 key metrics ranges from “presence of illegal gambling operations” to “lottery sales per capita” to “percentage of people with gambling disorders.” Continue reading below for our findings, additional expert commentary and a full description of our methodology.

Over the years, more advanced technology has paved the way for new forms of gambling such as iGaming, online fantasy sports and video poker. And while the estimated $240 billion gaming industry is no doubt a major contributor to the U.S. economy, its critics argue that gambling leads to social and economic problems, including gambling disorder and regressive taxes on residents of local economies where gambling facilities are present. For better insight on such issues, we turned to a panel of gaming-industry experts. Click on their profiles to read their bios and thoughts on the following key questions:

  1. Should sports betting be legal in all states? What are its pros and cons?
  2. Should daily fantasy sports be regulated as gambling?
  3. On balance, are state lotteries a good idea? Is there a way to make them less regressive?
  4. What are the signs someone is addicted to gambling? What should friends and family do to help?

Timothy Davis

Executive Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and John W. & Ruth H. Turnage Professor of Law at Wake Forest University School of Law
Timothy Davis
Should sports betting be legal in all states? What are the pros and cons? Legalizing sports betting will stymie the extent of illegal sports betting that currently exists. Legalization will also generate revenue for states and help to ensure fairer treatment for those who engage in sports betting. Regulation is unlikely, however, to effectively address the negatives often associated with sports betting and other forms of gambling. These include the social impact of sports betting, particularly problem gambling and the negative consequences that can flow therefrom such as the erosion of family relationships and monetary losses. Moreover, it’s currently unclear what impact legalizing sports betting will have on preserving the integrity of sports contests.Should daily fantasy sports be regulated as gambling? From a legal perspective, this depends on the tests used by courts in each state to determine the legality of daily fantasy sport contests. Although test are sometimes formulated differently and may consist of various elements, invariably the question of legality turns on whether daily fantasy sports are viewed as contests of skill or of chance. If the former, daily fantasy sports contests are likely legal; if the latter, they are likely illegal. I view daily fantasy as gambling and as such should be regulated. As is true for sports betting generally, however, regulation is unlikely to effectively address the potential negative social implications for participants in daily fantasy sports.