Eli5: Why are professional athletes typically banned from placing bets that are in favor of their own team/themselves?


I understand why you would not want athletes to throw games on purpose if they place a large bet for the opposing team to win, however let’s say I am a pitcher in baseball, and I place a bet for my own team to win, wouldn’t that only motivate me to play better because I stand to win more money by doing so?

In: 1352

It might motivate the opposing party to lose the game by betting on its opponent winning, completely skewing the outcome.

Because if they bet on themselves to win they have an extra incentive to do *anything* to win, aka cheat

Because bets aren’t that simple. You have bets like “we’ll win and beat the spread ” or not beat the spread.

Like say the bet is, we’ll win, but only by less than 3 points.

So if there’s a chance to win by more than that, they could do something that will make sure it doesn’t happen.

It gets very complicated with all the different types of bets being made.

There’s just a lot of illicit activity that could come about as a result.

* I could offer to secretly split my winnings with a player on the other team. He’s incentivized to play badly so that I win, and he gets around any regulations betting *against* himself.
* I could play badly for several games prior to my “big bet” game. My betting odds go up as a result, and I can win bigger when I play my best and actually win – now I’ve manipulated the bet spread to my advantage.
* There’s a lot of insider information available that might not be public. The opposing team has a star player, but our team’s scouts know that we have a strategy that gives us a great chance to beat him. The odds that I know are different from what the public knows, and I get an advantage over the betting market.
* Every athlete has incentive to cheat to a degree, but adding more money on top of it just makes cheating in my sport even more enticing

In some cases, leagues and commissions do allow players to bet on themselves (but not *against* themselves), such as boxing. But especially in team sports where there are lots of variables involved and more chance for manipulation, there are valid reasons to ban betting altogether, and avoid any of these issues from cropping up.

Answer: What if, in sports that track *how many* points you win by, and use that to determine team standing, playoff seed, and the like…the possibilities for shenanigans are many, and adversely affect game play, and standings for *other teams*, and bring the whole sport into question.

If I’m betting on my team for an over/under saying we’ll *win*, but by -2.5 points, I’ll do everything to stay in the “under”. Because, *money*. Maybe I’ll not strike out *that* batter, but *the other one* instead? “Accidentally” miss catching that fly ball to let that batter get another attempt instead of being out, to keep it close?

But what if my team needs to win by 3 or over to achieve a playoff/special tournament placement/seed/position, or place *above* another team in rankings, or gain “home field” advantage or “bye” periods? You can see the conflict of interest, here. Instead of playing my best, and trying to win, regardless, I’m “fine-tuning” the game, which could *lose me the game* (if I’m holding back, the other team may pull off an upset), or affect where my entire team wants to be (seeds, position, tournament), or allow *another team* to place better than they should have if I were playing “full on”.

Athletes betting on their own or other teams opens up all kinds of fuckery to the mechanics of the game, and to the standings of their and other teams. No good for anyone.