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            New Orleans      The headline said that the NCAA was unhappy that people were betting on how many three-point baskets Iowa’s women’s basketball star Caitlin Clark would make, it turned out to be six, or how many rebounds LSU star Angel Reese would scoop off the backboards, which ended up being 20 in a defeat.  In typical NCAA fashion, this late-in-the-game pretense of carrying about the impact on student athletes of gambling is yet another case of them grabbing a set of binoculars in order to try and see just how far the cows are out of the barn.  Gambling in and around sports now seems ubiquitous.

            While I was checking the score of the elite eight game between LSU and Iowa, mi companera and I were in the stands watching the New Orleans Pelicans get hammered by Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns, as we stumble to the playoffs with one of our best seasons ever.  Looking at the scoreboards, every announcement and promotion was either from FanDuel or Ceasar’s Casino’s sportsbook.  On the concourse before games, often one or the other is doing a promotion, giving away hats, or whatever to get people to sign up for their gambling apps.  Gambling seems to have taken over professional sports with big time athletes doing promotions, including LeBron James, and the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball reeling in the sponsorships and cash.

Bets like those on Clark and Reese are called “prop bets,” and they are big time, but only a part of the overall action.

According to BetMGM, there have been 2.5 times as many bets placed on women’s basketball as last year. Clark has received the second-most bets of any player, man or woman, in both events. Americans will legally wager $2.7 billion on the men’s and women’s N.C.A.A. tournaments this year, according to the American Gaming Association.

A lot of fans love this.  According to the NCAA, “58 percent of 18- to 22-year-olds had participated in sports betting.”  Bringing this closer to home, our son won thousands at his local watering establishment on an impossible $5 trifecta of improbable longshot NBA wins 8 legs parlay this season, and what could I say, but “congratulations!”

What could go wrong with all of this sports gambling?  Everything!

Baseball superstar Ohtani has been in the news because his Japanese interpreter supposedly ripped him off of millions to pay off sports gambling debts.  The NFL suspended ten players last season on betting allegations.  A Toronto Blue Jay is under investigation now.  Suspicions have been directed at a team at Philly’s Temple University.  A half-dozen years ago, a Supreme Court decision opened the floodgates and more almost 30 states have legalized sports gambling now.

Personally, I’m not a fan of betting on sports or really in general.  I’ve been to Nevada scores of times and never put a quarter in a machine.  The odds on all gaming are terrible, which is why they call us suckers.  If I wanted to lose money, I would just throw it in the street where at least I would know that someone who might need it, will find it, rather than some predatory company or billionaire.  That’s just me.  I try to limit all my risks to my work.  I’m not proselytizing, I’m just saying.

The NCAA’s limp finger in the dike isn’t going to influence financially strapped state legislatures desperate to not raise taxes to curtail betting on college sports and stars.  That’s the surest bet you might ever make.