The rise of sports gambling at WA


Online sportsbooks provide an easier betting platform than ever before.

James McDermott, Co-Sports Editor

Last names have been removed to protect source’s identities.

Gambling has been a prominent aspect of sports culture for the majority of history. Ever since gambling online through sportsbooks became officially legalized as of March 10, 2023 in Massachusetts, the volume has increased significantly. After evolving to the point where one can gamble from the comfort of their home, the United States put up record-setting gambling numbers in 2022, reaching roughly 55 billion dollars in revenue. This is not only a national development, as the gambling addiction has made its presence felt inside the walls of Westford Academy.

There have been many students and faculty members throughout WA that have indulged in their fair share of sports betting. Of these people, there are many different forms and experiences to be shared.

Juniors Perry and Ethan have both been experimenting with sports gambling for about a year and a half, beginning together in the fall of 2021. At the time, sports betting was not yet legalized in Massachusetts, so they placed their bets in New Hampshire on DraftKings until it became legal in March.

Perry and Ethan have both been disciplined about how much money they risk and they both agree that they are just in it for the fun.

“It is a fun way to keep track of other games going on and to stay engaged in sports, especially when your team isn’t playing,” Perry said. “It is also a nice way to feel like part of a community.”

Perry and Ethan also recognize the dangers of betting on sports and how it takes discipline to not go down a risky path. They mostly focus on football and basketball, and only put down small wagers.

“It is important that people take into account the risks associated with sports betting, as it naturally can be very addictive,” Perry said. “I think that if someone is a fan of sports, and understands the risks and how to combat this, it is not necessarily a bad thing.”

In December of 2022, junior Shane began his journey with sports gambling. He utilizes the up-and-coming app Fliff. Fliff provides a less risky platform, which can be very beneficial for anyone who is new to sports betting. As long as there is less than five dollars in an account, Fliff enters a dollar per day in credit into the account. Once the account exceeds five dollars, it is no longer given a free dollar every day. This allows people to enter no money into an account and still make money. Once the account reaches 50 dollars, a withdrawal can be made.

Shane enjoys utilizing the app to stay engaged in current sport events, but he also makes sure he is smart about how much he risks.

“It’s fun to win and it makes me more involved in teams and players,” Shane said. “You just have to make sure it does not become a problem.”

On the faculty side, English teacher Russell Coward has also spent many years betting on sports. He used to make the drive to New Hampshire in order to legally place bets, and now is able to stay in Massachusetts.

Coward only bets for the enjoyment of staying involved in current sporting events and even uses it as a way to keep in touch with his good friends. On the other hand, Coward is also slightly concerned about the effect it might have on the younger population.

“It’s a lot like drinking and marijuana. I think that you are going to have a solid percentage of kids who are going to abuse it and are going to get in trouble,” Coward said. “Unfortunately that burden will probably fall on the parents, but if they don’t have that support they could get into some serious debt.”

Sports gambling has definitely infiltrated Westford Academy and schools around the world. There are many individuals who are extremely knowledgeable about sports, but that does not eliminate the risk of gambling. Sports betting can be a fun and even profitable activity when used properly and in moderation.