CASE Op-ed: Sports Betting Laws Represent the Worst of the Nanny State
It’s nice to know that, unlike the good people of Minnetonka, Minn., I can drive a muddy car without running afoul of the law. Or that unlike for citizens of Alaska, it’s not illegal for me to give a moose a beer. I also take great solace that, unlike in Fargo, N.D., I can wear a hat while dancing without fear of going to jail.
Lots of antiquated and admittedly amusing laws remain on the books across America’s 50 states, created during a time when government felt its place was to control the most mundane standards of behavior. Many people call them dumb laws, and that’s hard to argue with as well. But the saving grace for the vast majority of these legal gems is that they’re typically local, and also — judging by the number of restrictions involving covered wagons — very old.
A more pressing concern today is that the nanny-state impulse of yore remains alive and as emboldened as ever, with the invasion of our personal rights affecting the number of ounces in our soft drinks, the types of cars we can buy, the size of our toilets, the light bulbs we use, and on and on. When politicians today seek to control our behavior it leads inevitably to three certainties: less freedom, higher costs, and overall bad outcomes.
Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the current federal ban on sports betting. In all but four states, it’s outright illegal to wager on professional or college sports, even though it’s a widely accepted activity, routinely done in office pools and even by presidents of the U.S. When a law turns the president and 47 million Americans into criminals simply for betting on the Super Bowl outcome, what we have is a dumb law.