Sports Betting should be Legal for 18-year-olds

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This story was originally published in the GenZeal feature of LNP on Sunday, March 3, 2024

By Brett McDowell ’24

If you were an 18-year-old, would you buy something with which you have about 1 in 300 million odds of winning and getting your money back, or something with which you have about a 35% chance of getting your money back?

The choice is obvious. The first one is your odds of winning a national lottery, while the other one is placing sports bets.

If your kid is 18 years old, which one would you rather have them do?

Having the lottery, but not sports betting, be legal at age 18 is not logical.

In the lottery, as stated above, you have little to no chances of winning. In sports betting, you have far higher chances of winning, but somehow it is not legal in almost every state until you turn 21.

According to a poll on Statista from 2019, 60% of people ages 18 to 24 participated in the lottery. It is a pretty safe assumption that there weren’t a lot of winners from those 64% of people.

Once you turn 18, you are considered an adult in the real world. You can vote, go to prison and get drafted — if one is called — to go to war. If the U.S. government believes that an 18-year-old is mature and ready enough to be shipped off to war, or can choose who they think should be in charge of their country, wouldn’t it make sense that they should be allowed to choose how they spend their money?

Americans of all age groups, especially adults, should be allowed to spend their money how they please.

According to a poll done by Seton Hall University, the general public also has a pretty strong stance on why sports betting should be legal. In fact, 54% of those polled said sports betting should be legal.

However, not everyone believes that the sports betting age should be lowered to 18. According to an article on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts website, problem gambling impacts about 4% to 8% of youths, compared to just 1% of adults. It also describes how gambling and sports betting addictions can start early from being exposed to it. This could include watching others place sports bets or even placing one for them.

However, I am not saying that all teens should be able to place a sports bet. I am only saying this should apply to those age 18 and older. This Massachusetts article does not specify the ages when these negative consequences occur, giving only groups of ages instead of specific ones.

Sports betting should be legalized for those who turn 18 and become adults due to the facts that they should be financially unrestricted and should be able to choose how to spend their money.

Remember that in this country you can be shipped out to war at 18 but cannot place a sports bet for another three years.


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