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Timothy L. O'Brien

Odds Are Sports Betting Will Bring Trouble

As gaming companies merge and sports leagues and media companies get in on the action, is anyone concerned about the dangers of gambling?

Official betting partner of the National Football League.

Official betting partner of the National Football League.

Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg

Henry Hill, the mobster whose exploits animated a bestseller (“Wiseguy”) and an Oscar-winning film (“Goodfellas”), once made a splash working with gamblers to rig college basketball games in the late 1970s. The scheme wasn’t complex. They bribed players to throw games, then cashed in winning wagers.

Gamblers corrupted sports long before Hill’s era; the 1919 Black Sox scandal is just one good example. And they continued doing so long after Hill went to prison. Tim Donaghy, a National Basketball Association referee and gambling addict, went to prison in 2008 for passing inside information about players to low-level mobsters betting on games.