Don't you dare bet on sports ... or else

If a group of men were told not to shave while listing the various institutional, governmental and political hypocrisies, they'd look like something between Castro and Ayatollah Khomeini by the end of the conversation.

And yet there's one issue that transcends all other levels of fraudulence, dizzying as they are: gambling.

To wit:

You are encouraged to play the lottery (de facto gambling). You are encouraged to patronize the casinos, perhaps not implicitly, but with the clear message of the state's reliance from its revenues. Eliot Ness won't show up at your front door for turning in a March Madness bracket or the football office pool. Nor does he care whether you play fantasy sports for money (more de facto gambling).

But if you dare attempt to parlay the Giants and the Colts on a sunny Sunday in October, the ensuing cavalcade of events would make you hold your side laughing if they weren't such a pathetic attempt to justify a few existences and grandstand for the masses: tap the phones, cuff the guy making the bet, cuff the guy answering the phone, cuff everyone else in the room and then hold a press conference, broadcast by a television outlet that accepts ads from the lottery and the casinos.

Stop me when I'm wrong about any of this, by the way.

Now I understand that linking hypocrisy to gambling is like sending along a news flash that there are tall people in the NBA. But the state's recent epiphany that Keno would be the latest elixir to budget woes frosted my adenoids once again.

Can somebody anybody provide a reasonable argument as to why sports betting isn't merely illegal, but portrayed as a pox on society? I mean, I used to bet on sports. This just in: I loved it. It was fun. And I always remained a swell guy. There is something about thinking every referee in the world is against you, something about the joy of a backside cover, something about being in a room with a bunch of guys who are all betting the same way that just screams baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.

Turns out we were all a bunch of degenerates, apparently.

Who knew?

Oh, the things I've seen. Law enforcement officials justifying their own existences criminally wasting taxpayer money by pursuing bookmakers like Tommy Lee Jones went after Harrison Ford in "The Fugitive." (I once knew a guy who took bets that was weeding his garden one summer day and had two cops in an unmarked car watching him from a distance). Even the NCAA yanked all of its championship events from New Jersey last year, including the NCAA Division I women's regional that wound up in Bridgeport, upon learning that Gov. Chris Christie proposed a sports-wagering bill.

It relocated Division I swimming and diving, Division III men's volleyball, Division II women's lacrosse and Division III women's lacrosse.

What, the NCAA is afraid of point shaving at a swim meet?

And how does one point shave at a swim meet?

Have Henry Hill make some kid drown on purpose?

Some guy is going to parlay Villanova swimming and Amherst lacrosse?

And so why, again, does the term "sports wagering" set off sirens?

I figured that since I spend so much job-related time at Mohegan Sun, I'd ask a few spies there about this. Essentially, sports betting, if legalized, wouldn't be a huge moneymaker for the casino per se. But it would increase casino patronage, which isn't a bad thing. And it would generate more money on the days bookmakers used the casino to "lay off," or use a larger entity to pay such bets they're not prepared to pay if they lose.

I just don't get it. Gambling is the most encouraged vice of them all. Until it comes to sports betting. Then comes the moral outrage.

Meanwhile, let's all play Keno. Let's all play the lottery. Let's go pump coins into slot machines. Let's fill out a bracket next March. Let's pick football teams with the office mates in the fall. Let's play fantasy baseball for money. Let's. Why not? It's fun.

But don't you dare propose that we legalize sports betting. Or, gulp, try to make a bet now with Rocco The Claw. Can't have that.

It's gambling.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.


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