It’s been around five years since the vast majority of sports fans in America geared up to enter a brave new world after the Supreme Court struck down the federal law that had previously banned the vast majority of states from legalizing sports betting within their borders.
While gamblers had previously needed to make the trek to Nevada or rely on a bookie to place (illegal) wagers, that quickly began to change.
It took less than a month for Delaware to become the first locale to take advantage of the aforementioned ruling, and before long, most states had passed similar measures to grant residents and visitors the ability to get their gamble on.
While many sports fans have viewed that development as an incredibly welcome change, it hasn’t been without its fair share of fairly noticeable downsides.
Every major league and network has embraced sports betting with open arms—although those arms have arguably been a bit too open when you consider the amount of betting-related commercials, in-game promos, and advertising logos that currently litter basically every broadcast.
Sports betting also gives fans an opportunity to get emotionally and financially invested in the outcome of a contest.
The fact that some people take their wagers a bit too seriously isn’t necessarily a recent or shocking development, but the proliferation of the industry has spawned some fairly troubling behavior that’s become increasingly hard to ignore.
How sports betting has contributed to worrying behavior among sports fans
Before I dive into things, it’s worth noting this isn’t meant as a sweeping indictment of sports betting but rather intended to call attention to the small minority of gamblers who have emerged as the proverbial bad apples that risk spoiling the bunch.
The primary issue is the people who simply can’t fathom what should be a fairly unspoken rule of sports betting: the reality that, for the most part, no one but yourself really cares about how you personally fare when everything is said and done.
Sure, there’s something to be said for following the fate of people who’ve placed some truly massive bets or defied the odds by cashing in on a seemingly impossible parlay.
However, those are the exception to the rule; you might really care about the $20 you stand to win or lose based on how many rebounds a player pulls down during a game, but that player—and, for that matter, basically everyone else—could not care less about whether or not it ultimately hits.
Draymond Green essentially said as much when he called attention to the rise in the number of people who’ve gone out of their way to air their grievances on social media after a bet fails to come to fruition.
Unfortunately, far too many people failed to get that particular memo.
The NBA is far from the only league plagued by this particular issue, but it’s worth focusing on that particular organization thanks to the number of instances where it’s recently reared its ugly head thanks to basketball.
In 2022, NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski predicted sports betting would only increase the number of unruly spectators who behave poorly at games in the wake of a number of incidents that saw fans and players get into it over the course of the season.
It seems safe to say that prophecy has come to fruition based on what’s unfolded since.
In March, police in Florida launched an investigation after Bradley Beal got into a postgame altercation with a fan who was reportedly mad about the money he’d lost and opted to place the blame on the Wizards guard.
That unfolded shortly after Raptors big man Chris Boucher shared a disturbing anecdote concerning a fan who sent him a message that read “I chose the wrong slave today” after the Toronto player scored five points instead of the 10 the bettor needed to win.
Boucher isn’t the only member of the Raptors who’ve expressed similar concerns, as Pascal Siakam described betting culture as “crazy” during a conversation with Draymond where he lamented people will “literally wish you death.”
Unfortunately, there’s no easy solution to this issue, as it essentially hinges upon asking decidedly irrational people to behave rationally.
However, based on how things are currently trending, it seems like leagues and sportsbooks may need to consider their current approach in order to cut down on this worrying harassment.