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A risky bet?See the dangers of legalized sports betting

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The Japanese government is looking to legalize sports betting as a new form of gambling. Official research groups have debated related issues, with consensus forming that Japan should follow in the footsteps of various Western countries that allow betting on sporting events. How will this debate evolve, and if it does, what can we expect from the Japanese sporting world?

Thinking about enriching the sports scene

In October 2020, the first meeting was held by a study group on collaboration between the community and the sports club industry. Members, including university academics, business executives in the sports industry, officials from competitive sports leagues and former athletes, will meet 10 times by March 2021 and put together a preliminary proposal in June of the same year. At the beginning of the proposal, he identified two areas for consideration. The first is the potential for the development of community sports clubs to drive local economic growth in service industries, and the second is the question of the sustainability of sports clubs in schools. So far, it has formed the foundation for athletic activities at the junior level.

In other words, in order to enable local sports clubs to support physical education activities in schools, it is necessary to revitalize the sports industry as a source of income. Betting on sports is positioned as one way to generate this income. As the industry grows in size, an increasing flow of money is likely to circulate in the world of sports.

Materials distributed to members of the group provided an overview of the sports betting scene in Europe and North America. In Britain, the country with the longest history of legalized sports betting in modern times, the bookmaker received his official government approval in 1961. In this century, Italy, France and Germany have approved the entry of private companies into the sports betting sector. US legalization in 2018 is underway in several states.

There are several officially licensed gambling activities in Japan — horse racing, Keirin Bicycle races, boat races, motorcycle races, the lottery system “TOTO” that decides the outcome of sports, public lotteries, etc. However, private companies are not allowed to participate in the gambling industry. Other Asian countries such as India, China and South Korea have similar restrictions, banning gambling, with the exception of a few officially controlled sports betting schemes and lotteries.

The study group predicts that opening the door to sports betting will boost tax revenue. As an example to support this, members cite recent legalization moves in the United States. This brought him to the national treasury the equivalent of more than 200 million yen in just two years.

potential political support

Meanwhile, a subcommittee of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Sports Nation Research Committee issued an equally supportive statement on the potential for sports betting. The increasingly DX-driven sports betting market in the sports industry, its potential impact on the entire sports world, and the cultural, social, and other external factors associated with this betting.

Sports betting can also be very attractive to the IT industry, as evidenced by the focus on DX or digital transformation in this statement. Mitsuteru Kimura, president of social media company mixi, is also involved in sports-related businesses and has spoken at government study groups about the huge potential of sports betting in Japan. His presentation focused on his online gambling scene in the United States, with private sector stakeholders working with major sports leagues such as the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, and the National Football League to conduct data analysis. I have detailed the method. enterprise.

If sports betting is legalized in Japan, we can expect similar cooperation to take shape in Japan. If television and Internet broadcasters are involved, compensation for broadcasting rights will also be generated, further expanding business opportunities.

Now that the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are over, the Japanese sports community can hardly expect any profitable business opportunities in the near future. While numbers are severely limited, government spending on sports programs is expected to decline and private sector sponsors are tightening their purse strings. It’s no surprise that all of this is driving figures in the sports industry to see betting on their games as a way to inject fresh dynamism.

Pay Attention to Athlete’s Needs

But one thing that’s missing from much of this discussion is what kind of competitive environment athletes need to shape. Today, racers and riders involved in officially sanctioned gambling events in Japan follow strict rules prohibiting contact between them and outside parties to prevent race modifications or other scandals. If sports betting is legalized in Japan, the environment surrounding players and referees in popular sports such as baseball, basketball, soccer and rugby is expected to become even more strained. When sports such as sumo and boxing are added, individual athletes can expect stricter lifestyle management. Athletes may be required to enter a quarantine-like period in the lead-up to competition.

Between 1969 and 1971, Japanese professional baseball experienced the “Black Mist Incident,” in which players of the Nishitetsu Lions (now Seibu) played games in exchange for money from organized criminals. Baseball players from other teams were also involved when the scandal came to light, with six players banned from the game for life and many others receiving suspensions, pay cuts or other punishments.

In February 2011, a match-fixing scandal that rocked the top echelons of sumo wrestling showed text messages exchanged by wrestlers and other evidence that the match had been thrown.The Japan Sumo Association canceled the main tournament in March of that year, and about 20 people sumo wrestler Banned from the sport.Several masteror the stable master was also involved and remoted, becoming a scandal that shook the sumo world from top to bottom.

Soccer was also invincible. It was discovered that club officials and coaches of the Suzuka Point Getters of the Japanese soccer league, which is aiming to be promoted to the third division of the J. The players rebelled against the instructions and although the match was not played, the scandal disqualified the team from promotion to J3.

Professional sports always risk this kind of scandal. The official endorsement of sports betting and the entry of private companies into the gambling industry could open the door to further illegal betting managed in the dark by organized crime groups. This can put athletes at personal risk, not to mention the danger to their sports careers should the scandal come to light. While spun, it’s clear that it’s not necessarily something the sports world itself aspires to.

Gambling and games: a long history

The history of sports betting goes back thousands of years. Games played in ancient Greek city-states, for example, were said to have been a lively arena for betting by observers and an opportunity for contestants to win prizes. In the Roman Empire, duels between gladiators and battles between animals, or between animals and humans, were wagered by those who were fascinated by the thrill of these blood sports.

From the Middle Ages onwards, cockfighting became a common pastime in British pubs and gambling became popular at all levels of society. I was. Today, legally licensed bookmarkers process bets on a wide variety of sports and other events.

The unpredictability of who will win a sports contest is something that captures the imagination of the viewer. Betting on the outcome adds yet another layer of excitement. The event becomes an even more thrilling spectacle when the public is allowed to bet on the sport. As a very dynamic example of this, it’s easy to think of the crowds of gladiators and beasts fighting each other in the Roman Colosseum.

What is the ideal way to promote sports?

Gambling aimed squarely at people’s speculative minds has more than a few problems associated with it. Even gambling-friendly Britain, where the bookmaker has been legally doing business since the 1960s, had a very strict approach to entertainment before then due to concerns over these issues.

Problems such as betting beyond one’s means and gambling addiction are certainly attracting attention in Japan. This means that all you need is your smartphone to get online and immerse yourself in gambling opportunities with ease.

Former economy minister Koichi Hagiuda has warned there is no truth to the idea that the government is rushing to legalize sports betting. , the Liberal Democratic Party’s Sports Investigation Committee seems to be in favor of the idea. For this reason, Japan should avoid focusing solely on potential business benefits and should also properly consider the harm gambling poses.

It is also a dubious leap in logic to declare that gambling proceeds will be used for school sports activities or to revitalize local athletic clubs. Sport for young people should be positioned primarily as an educational activity, one that inspires and helps foster empathy and purity of spirit. should be the focus of our efforts to

The ideal of sports promotion is to increase the number of participants first and foremost. As more people play sports, they pay dues to join clubs. They pay coaches to try to improve their skills. Fans pay for their tickets and head to the stadium to watch the game. Television and online broadcasters pay for the rights to broadcast the competition.

The more fans there are, the more companies will try to sponsor the team and advertise in front of them. In addition, the national and local governments provide the infrastructure necessary for sports by building sports facilities. All of this represents a valuable economic activity that breathes new energy into the sport as a whole.

I believe this is the proper way for money to circulate through the sports ecosystem. There are many other things that need to be done first before paving the way for new approaches like gambling in games.

Banner photo: On February 3, 2011, Japan Sumo Association president Hanagoma Hanaregoma (right) bows to Suga Suzuki (left), the state minister of education, in apology for the scandal of fixing his sport’s matches. A few months earlier, in August 2010, he had replaced Kita no Umi, who resigned in connection with an illegal bet on a baseball game by a sumo industry official.© Jiji.)