A former Indiana University basketball star’s alleged participation in an illegal Indiana gambling ring is newsworthy in and of itself. There are lessons to take away regardless of whether Joe Hillman was actually involved, however.
Legal sportsbooks are superior to illegal operations for many reasons. The story of the investigation into the ring Hillman may have been a part of highlights them all.
What we know about this illegal Indiana gambling ring
Even if Hillman was involved, the member of the 1987 Hoosiers national championship team doesn’t appear to have been the ringleader. He is a person of interest in the investigation, however.
An affidavit suggests Hillman may have acted as an agent in the ring. The allegations state Hillman transported funds for illegal gambling to the operation’s leader, New Palestine businessman Bret A. Wells.
If all the current allegations prove true, the consequences are serious. Wells and his associates like Hillman could face significant fines and prison time in connection with several felony counts.
The details of the alleged ring show why such schemes are dangerous, not only for those involved but everyone in their communities as well.
Why illegal gambling operations aren’t worth the risk
In addition to the accused individuals facing incarceration, there are many permanent effects of having a felony on their records. A felony conviction would compromise their ability to secure employment after release, for instance.
Fines and future lost income would quickly overshadow the take Wells and others made on the alleged ring. Any profit at that point would disappear.
That can affect families who depend on those individuals for income. Their families aren’t the only ones who feel the effects, however.
The allegations include bets on high school football games. Indiana law bans such wagers for good reasons. Adolescents are vulnerable to manipulation by adults in a variety of ways.
Adults with action on high school games and access to the young people involved can affect the integrity of the game. Additionally, the activity and pressure can impact their development as well.
Illegal books also make no concessions for people with compulsive gambling issues, but rather prey upon them. It’s no different than a person who has no concern for an alcoholic handing her or him a beer.
Customers of illegal or off-shore sportsbooks don’t have any recourse should they suspect integrity issues or other concerns. Additionally, there are no local protections for the money deposited and earned on a non-regulated sportsbook.
Legal and regulated sports betting in Indiana allow residents and visitors to take advantage of the benefits while minimizing its dangers.
Why legal sportsbooks are the clear choice for Indianans
One of the reasons why Indianans have participated in illegal rings like the one Wells is accused of running has been a simple lack of access to legal sportsbooks. On Sept. 1, that has changed.
Legal retail sportsbooks went live on that day, and at this point, 13 sportsbooks throughout the state allow Indiana residents and visitors to place wagers on major college and professional sports. Access is due to expand soon as well.
Starting next week, legal sportsbooks in Indiana will offer wagers on the internet as well. Once registered, Indianans can place bets anywhere in the state from any online device.
Access to legal sportsbooks in Indiana allows players to self-regulate and have integrity monitors. Books regulated by the Indiana Gaming Commission also provide consumers with a way to address disputes and provide accountability for the books’ operators.
If Hillman faces prison time or even just a loss of his integrity, his will be another tragic story of how illegal gambling destroys lives. Indiana has provided a safer way to enjoy sports betting. It’s time to take advantage of it.