Supreme Court Decision Lifting Ban on Sports Betting Is a Win for Freedom

May 29, 2018

by Terry Schilling


This article is part of a series focusing on Lens of Liberty, a project of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation.

 In her Liberty Minute titled “The Big Gulp,” Helen Krieble discusses a local government policy that many people immediately recognized as an egregious overreach:

There have been many news stories about one mayor’s drive to ban large soft drinks. Nearly everyone thought the effort was a classic case of government overreach. I’ve never bought a Big Gulp soda, but I cherish my right to do so.

We all understand the dangers of too much sugar in our diets, but most people know that government has more important things to worry about than the size of our sodas. If we look through the lens of liberty, we might realize that this is really not much different than the government determining how our hamburgers must be cooked, or what kind of lightbulbs we must buy. In America we believe in taking responsibility for our own actions and providing for our own happiness. Sometimes we need to remind politicians to take care of important government business and let us take care of our own business.

In 2013, New York City limited soft drink sizes to 16 ounces. The New York Court of Appeals overturned the rule in 2014, ultimately deciding that the rule exceeded the authority of the New York City Board of Health.

Regulations like these send a clear message to American citizens: the government knows how you should live better than you do. Voters should use their common sense to identify laws and regulations that exceed the necessary authority of government and fight back on these issues. One such issue has recently been in the headlines.

Earlier this month, in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, the Supreme Court decided that states could legalize sports gambling as they see fit. The ruling overturned a 1992 federal law which barred most states from allowing this type of gambling.

The ban on sports betting was at best arbitrary, and at worst another example of an overreaching government. Individuals should have the right to determine if they want to participate in gambling as a form of entertainment. While the government thinks that it is protecting people from themselves when it prohibits gambling, what it is really doing is making decisions for citizens in personal areas. We should be able to make the decision to gamble ourselves—if someone fails to gamble responsibly, they will be forced to bear the consequences of their actions.

The free market is truly a wonderful thing. States now have the ability to legalize what could be a multibillion dollar industry. When sports betting is brought out of the shadow economy, there is more opportunity to ensure it is being done in a way where consumers are protected. Additionally, there will be increased competition from betting services, as the state of Nevada will no longer have a complete monopoly in the legal market.

Americans should look through the “lens of liberty” when they see government trying to make these kinds of decisions for them and fight back. The state of New Jersey, which was at the forefront of the fight against the federal sports gambling policy, is a good example in this case as to how to fight federal tyranny. We must be willing to battle in court and at the ballot box to preserve the right to live our lives free from the overzealous meddling of government elites.

Photo credit: Prayitno via Flickr, CC BY 2.0


Terry Schilling is executive director of the American Principles Project.

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