Placing friendly bets on sports games escalated into major gambling schemes and scandals in recent decades. Some of the schemes drawn up by bookies, players and even team executives turned heads and shocks the sports world with each scandal revealed. Gambling effects sports in a variety of ways from deterring fan support to causing major disruption from blown championship games.
NFL Player Gambling Scandals
Fans often believe that NFL referees are paid to miss calls, penalties and make poor calls on purpose to throw the game. Fans have been right on several occasions. NFL gambling schemes are known to be relatively frequent.
The pressure put on players to either make a play or blow a play based upon bets often obstructs their playing ability. The stress and worrying about what the team will think, how the media will react and what fans will think takes a toll on a player.
While most players truly love the game of football, there are those players that are more about the dollar signs than the game itself.
NCAA Points Shaving Schemes
Points shaving scandals are prevalent in college basketball. The first scandal to surface was in 1951 at The City College of New York. These schemes come about when players are contacted by gamblers and/or bookies to make sure a team is incapable of covering a specific points spread. It is easier for these schemes to take place in college systems. College players are typically struggling for financial support, and are easily tempted with cash or gifts for their participation in the scheme.
One of the most mind-blowing points shaving schemes was at Boston College in 1978 involving Henry Hill, Rick Kuhn, Rocco Perla and Tony Perla. Henry Hill was known for his ties to the movie "Goodfellas". Rick Kuhn played for Boston College and was easily bribed by the Perla brothers to go about working their scheme in such a way that it did not appear suspicious.
Turmoil at the Race Track
Horse racing is another area where gambling schemes are prevalent. Jockeys are often approached to throw off the horse's gait or style of running to change the outcome of the race. A horse that is expected to be a favorite could easily lose a race if a horse is unable to gallop at top speed, which leads to huge losses for those that place hefty bets on a specific horse.
Horse track betting schemes still go on today, but are handled in a much different way. Bookies are kept as a secret and the circle of those that are permitted to be involved is quite small. It is not often that a new person is accepted because they are immediately thought to be an informant by seasoned track gamblers.
Student athletes are the biggest targets for points shaving schemes and sports gambling troubles. Students do not have much money and are easily bribed. One Arizona State University student, Stevin Smith was paid $80,000 in 1994 to throw four games.
This gambling ring used casinos in Las Vegas to place their bets. The casinos caught on to their scheme and blew the whistle promptly. Three of those involved were sentenced to actual jail time.
Gambling affects college students in a major way. Roughly 39-percent of female students have claimed that they have gambled in some capacity recently.
Impacts a Player's Future
When students get involved in gambling schemes, it can leave them with a criminal paper trail that can prevent their professional sports career. It can also have an impact on their life in general as some charges may be of felony status. Felony convictions affect a person's ability to rent or buy a home, obtain a loan, live in certain communities or work in some industries. Nearly every aspect of a person's live is impacted.
Impact on Society in General
Sports gambling does affect society. Fully understanding the absolute economic effects is difficult because sports gambling is illegal in the United States. When middle-class persons get involved in these schemes, they can literally lose every possession they have. Gambling can become an addiction or obsession that can leave a family completely deserted, sometimes even homeless.
Sports gambling also affects society's overall impression of a game. This is especially the case when they see missed calls, penalties or intentional injuries being inflicted on others. They see amazing athletes blowing a game intentionally. It does not matter the level, either college or professional, that a player is involved with, these schemes and gambling scandals happen every season. Some are just good enough to have not been caught yet.