Every summer, thousands of baseball fans gather in Cooperstown, New York in July to celebrate the annual induction ceremony for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This year's inductee, shortstop Barry Larkin, is noteworthy for playing his entire nineteen-year career for his hometown team, the Cincinnati Reds.

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Larkin received loud cheers during his acceptance speech as he gave tribute to Pete Rose, his mentor and manager. Barry Larkin is essentially Pete Rose's protégé, as both men were born and raised in Cincinnati and became superstars winning World Championships for their hometown team.

Yet, Rose shall forever be denied his moment of glory alongside Barry Larkin, forced instead into exile for his crime of betting on baseball. Rose disgraced himself, his city and his team by getting himself kicked out of the game.

The History Behind The Sports Betting Ban

Pete Rose was banned from baseball for committing what many players and fans consider a grievous sin: He bet on the game. As manager, Rose possessed unique ability and power to control and influence the outcome of every game, enhancing his chances of winning bets; and thus compromising the integrity of the game.

Published in 1989, The Dowd Report documented evidence of Rose's transgressions over 225 pages, alleging Rose bet on baseball games while managing the Cincinnati Reds. As a result of Rose's scandal, Congress passed The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. This law made sports betting illegal in 46 out of 50 states.

However, today debate is stirring regarding the legalization of sports betting. Several states are challenging the legality and constitutionality of this federal law, and pushing for political reform of sports betting.

A Summary Of The Debate

Lawmakers in California recently passed a law in favor of legalizing sports betting. A lawsuit against the federal government, alleging the unconstitutionality of the 1992 law—because it permits legalized sports gambling in Nevada, Montana, Delaware and Oregon—has been thrown out.

The lawsuit purported these states receive preferential treatment because legalized sports betting represents an extra source of their states' tax income, with estimated revenues ranging from $700 million to $4 billion annually. Many lawmakers still predict the federal ban will be overturned.

States Desiring Legal Sports Betting

Buoyed by generous support from Big Casino executives, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced his state will defy the federal ban, allowing people to begin placing sports bets this fall.

New Jersey desires to legalize and implement sports betting to level the economic playing field between Atlantic City and Las Vegas. Last fall, voters passed a referendum in a 2-1 margin, granting them freedom to place bets on sports games.

Is Federal Change On The Horizon?

U.S. Federal gambling laws remain murky, comprising a confusing maze of greed, miscast morality and special interests. Due to the prohibition of sports betting, a majority of profits from this billion-dollar industry are controlled by the black market, and go into the hands of organized criminals.

Today, the attitudes—and with them, the laws—are changing. Casinos are being constructed all across the nation in states where gambling has long been prohibited, as more and more states jump on the gambling legalization bandwagon. Slot machines are now legal at horse racing tracks.

If this trend continues, sports betting will soon be legal too—you can bet on it.