In case you weren’t aware of it, a boxer by the name of Floyd Mayweather defeated a Mixed Martial Artists named Conor McGregor in a boxing match. There is an interesting peripheral to the fight in that Mayweather apparently attempted to wager a large amount of money he would win the fight under a certain number of rounds. The very idea of someone associated with an event placing a wager on it brings ethical concerns to the table.
Most people don’t seem to have a problem with the idea of an athlete betting on themselves to win. In this case the wager was something called an Over/Under Bet. Basically, the fight was scheduled to last twelve rounds and Mayweather wanted to place a bet he would win in nine and a half rounds or less. If he had taken the Over part of the bet, there would certainly have been an issue. Because he took the Under, many people think it’s perfectly fine, just as they think a straight bet to win is reasonable.
The difference is that an Over bet would encourage Mayweather to keep the fight going, whereas an Under bet means he is trying to win as quickly as possible.
I actually have a problem with both wagers, I even have a problem with an athlete wagering on themselves to win. I don’t think athletes, managers, or anyone else involved in game time decisions should be wagering on outcomes, regardless of the circumstances. Wagers can and likely will change behavior.
Now, that being said, I’m a Libertarian. I think anyone should be able to make any wager they’d like, at any time. However, I also think those taking such wagers can enforce whatever rules they think reasonable. If the MGM Sports Books refuses to take wagers, even straight win bets, from those involved in game decisions, that’s their business and I support them.
My problem is people who are making those sorts of game time decisions can be influenced to change their behavior based on wagers, and this affects everyone else making a wager. It’s largely the same as Insider Trading. If Mayweather bets a large amount to win the fight in under a certain number of rounds, it’s likely when that round limit starts to get close, he will change his fighting tactics to get the win. Other people could use this knowledge to change their wagers. If they don’t have information on his bet, their wager is made without full knowledge, and that, to me, is a danger.
The reason we want to regulate such things is to ensure people believe the event they wager upon is not subject to manipulation. The idea being that such manipulation is theft. If you bet on a game with a fixed outcome, you lose and this is essentially stealing.
It is in the best interest of fans, bettors, sports booking agency, the sport itself, players, and those involved in decision making to ensure that outsiders believe the game is not being manipulated. That doesn’t mean manipulation doesn’t happen. It just means the games are better for everyone. That is, to a large degree, the essence of the Libertarian Philosophy. What is in the best interest of the game is in the best interest of all those involved.
Those who share my philosophy believe ethics are best served by self-interest, rather than government regulation. In this case, if those taking wagers refused to take the bet, good for them. If not, it’s their business as well but if they suffer consequences in the future; so be it.
By Tom Liberman
Tom Liberman is a regular fellow from St. Louis, Mo., who enjoys spending time with his wonderful family and great friends. He writes Sword and Sorcery fantasy novels in his spare time.