Sports Betting/Trouble in Toyland
Ralph welcomes Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times investigative reporter, Eric Lipton, to give us the over/under on how professional sports in the U.S. is now part of a multibillion-dollar corporate gambling enterprise that can now even reach children. And before you buy toys for your loved ones this holiday season you need to hear our interview with Teresa Murray, director of U.S. PIRG’s Consumer Watchdog office, discussing their latest report on dangerous toys, entitled “Trouble in Toyland.”
Eric Lipton is a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, and an investigative reporter for the New York Times. He traveled to Topeka, Kansas to report on lobbying and sports-betting legislation for the New York Times’ new series that examines how the sports-gambling industry has expanded in the US.
The end goal for the sports betting industry is not sports betting. It’s actually something they call “iGaming”... They’re pushing states that have already adopted sports betting to move on now to iGaming. And we’ll see how successful they are, but already we have witnessed—just since 2018— the largest expansion of legalized gambling in United States history.
Yeah, it’s true that many people bet on the side— college basketball or Super Bowl betting— that’s been around for so long. But with the institutionalization and the legalization now it’s become such a part of the enterprise of sports. It has fundamentally transformed the relationship we have with such an important part of our culture.
A major-league ballplayer is not going to strike out in a key game in order to collect some hidden gambling bets from their family or friends. But it’s terrible for appearances, and it’s fertile for suspicions— where you’re sitting there, watching, and you know that there are all kinds of endorsements and entanglements, and you say “Ah, he couldn’t have bungled that play! That was deliberate.” And so, there’s a stench that begins arising by people who suspect that this greed does penetrate the games.
Teresa Murray is a Consumer Watchdog with the US Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, and she directs US PIRG's Consumer Watchdog office, which looks out for consumers' health, safety and financial security. She is the primary author of “Trouble In Toyland 2022”, the Consumer Watchdog’s annual toy safety report.
We have an increasing number of smart toys. Which, on some levels, can be good— maybe it keeps the kid’s interest, maybe there’s an educational value… The problems are when these toys are invading our children’s privacy, collecting information about them, maybe without the parents’ knowledge. And then in some cases the information can be used to market to the child, which is wrong. Or spy on the child, which is creepy. Or in some cases perhaps even stalk the child.
Families should realize and remember that just because a toy is for sale, it doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily safe. It could be a recalled toy. It could be a counterfeit toy. Or it could be a toy that’s just not appropriate for your child.