The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The game within the game: sports betting at UVM

Annalisa Madonia
Photo illustration: Sports betting will be legal in Vermont by 2024.

Sports play an integral role in society for both players and spectators.

For a select few, sports are a full-time career that removes the financial burden from themselves and future generations. The median annual salary for a professional athlete of any sport in the U.S. is over $94,000, with the high end peaking at over $50 million, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For the spectators, sports build community. It is a common ground, a break from reality and, above all else, a form of entertainment.

With the evolution of sports—and the culture surrounding it—gambling has become a cornerstone of fandom.

Gambling is widely considered a taboo topic; in the world of sports, however, the controversial practice is as normalized as it has ever been. Just under half of U.S. adults placed a sports-related bet in the last year, according to an Aug. 2 study from Drive Research.

However, there is still a vocal opposition that believes the immediate access to sites like FanDuel, Caesars or DraftKings kills the integrity and intended mission of sports, according to a Feb. 10 CNN article.

For junior Jensen Daly, it is the former.

“Parlays—or bets—add a new element to sports, which make the games that much more exciting,” Daly said. “I get the skepticism around it because for some it is an addiction, but for me, it has allowed me to fall in love with sports all over again.”

In June, Vermont joined more than 30 other states when Governor Phil Scott signed H.127, a piece of legislation that legalized sports betting in the state. However, for a school like UVM, with a predominantly out-of-state population, plenty of students had sports betting experience prior to the bill signing.

Betting sites allow users to wager on anything from professional football games to collegiate field hockey, and with the college basketball season in full swing, students can be more invested in their school’s sports more than ever.

In the past year alone, more than 67% of on-campus residents at Division I schools have placed a sport-related bet, while 41% have placed at least one bet on their school, according to a May 24 NCAA study.

However, there is a key group expected to stay away from the growing phenomenon: the athletes and those involved in the programs themselves.

The NCAA and its officials have specifically laid down some hefty punishments on athletes for betting-related instances. Student athletes are at risk of facing athletic probation or losing their eligibility outright, according to NCAA guidelines.

First-year Tian Ragle, who works within Vermont’s Division I basketball program, is subjected to the NCAA’s zero-tolerance regulations.

“Now that I work for the team, I can no longer bet on college hoops,” Ragle said. “I would choose to be a member of the basketball program over making the occasional couple of dollars every day, but it was an added element to me watching the game that I enjoyed.”

As fun and rewarding as sports betting can be, participants can become addicted. Like any form of betting, it is an unreliable way to increase financial standing and should be treated as purely recreational.

Studies have shown the addiction to sports betting is as serious as any form of gambling. Betting firms brought in over $6 billion dollars, a figure that has skyrocketed and is up more than 15 times what it was back in 2018, according to a Feb. 10 study conducted by The Hill.

With so many sportsbooks and betting sites available, there are equal amounts of advertisements and resources warning users of the negative effects. These resources stress the importance of creating positive betting-related habits that establish self-control, such as self-imposed limits and budgets.

Sports betting has introduced many new fans to the sports world and has brought many familiar ones back. If done in moderation, it can be viewed as an additional element of fandom and brings spectators closer to the sport and its athletes.

Sports gambling is growing the professional and collegiate sports worlds and their respective markets while also adding to the fan experience.

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About the Contributor
Annalisa Madonia
Annalisa Madonia, Co-Photo Editor
(She/her)  Annalisa Madonia is a sophomore majoring in public communication with minors in food systems, applied design and nutrition and food sciences. She joined the Cynic as a staff photographer before taking on the role of photo editor. In her free time, she loves to combine her passion for baking and photography with food photography. Email [email protected] to get in contact with Annalisa.