Online sports betting is here to stay—for better & for worse


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You’ve no doubt seen the commercials: sports betting is live in Ontario and the big companies are eager to get everyone on their apps. 


It’s become impossible to watch a Toronto Blue Jays game without being bombarded by ads for the online sportsbooks, be it Bet365, The Score, or Bet MGM, among others. No matter how much you love Breaking Bad, the one with Aaron Paul is especially egregious. 


These ads paint sports betting for what it is: fun and exciting. 


However, what they conveniently avoid mentioning are risks associated with gambling. Like slots and blackjack, sports betting is an addictive hobby that can drain your finances like a three-pointer. 


On paper, sports and betting are a match made in heaven. 


Sports fans are often intense, highly invested, and passionate. They find few things sweeter than their team winning a big game. Add in some money, and now that huge Raptors win has your wallet feeling a little heavier than it did before tip-off. 


Some sports, primarily horse racing and fighting, have always involved betting. People have been putting money on steeds and boxing matches for decades, but being able to bet on hockey, baseball, basketball is a newer phenomenon for many. 


Online betting apps provide the most casual of sports fans an avenue to put money down on their favourite teams and players, no bookies required. 


The options are unlimited. As the commercials are quick to explain, users can put money down on theirfavourite teams and players, no bookies required. 


The options are unlimited. As the commercials are quick to explain, users can put money down on everything from the moneyline—picking the winner—to hyper-specific play props, such as how many innings Blue Jays ace Kevin Gausman will pitch in his next start. 


This is where it gets dicey; the overwhelming number of options on these betting platforms create an illusion of skill. When you bet on the moneyline, you’re choosing either win or lose. When you start betting on player props, you’re guessing based on averages. 


For many diehard, well-educated sports fans, these types of bets feel safer. Some people make a living selling their predictions, using algorithms to calculate supposedly statistical based on what the player in question has done all season.


Unfortunately, no amount of research or knowledge can accurately predict how a game will play out on a given night. The house always wins; oddsmakers set lines in a way that ensures nobody is destined to be a profitable bettor in the long-term. 


However, the more important question is whether becoming a profitable bettor is something desirable in the first place. 


Serious sports betting requires serious commitment. People who only bet on the weekends with their friends might get lucky once or twice, but the people who really make money are the ones devoting hours a day to studying, for what little good it does. 


The adrenaline rush you get after hitting a parlay on your favourite team is unmatched—until you’re bored and betting on theirnext game. 


Most people already have a hard enough staying off their phones. Add in the need to check the scores on seven games every few minutes, and you have a recipe to spend your entire night with your nose mere inches from your phone screen. 


These companies are smart. They lure people onto their platforms using celebrities and keep them there by offering free bets, but ultimately, they’re little more than exploitative businesses happy to take money from anyone who buys into their fantasy. 


When done responsibility, online sports betting can be fun. But, unlike watching the game on TV, the consequences of a tough loss can be devastatingly real. 



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