Ever since the Supreme Court's 2018 ruling that allowed sports gambling to explode across the nation, the United States has seen a steady increase in the ready availability of gambling opportunities and apps that are now some of the main advertisers and sponsors for sports coverage of all stripes — from ESPN, Fox, NBC and CBS to the likes of Barstool and podcasts a plenty. Some traditionalists and conservatives are put off by this — gambling, they've long argued, is bad for communities and imposes a tax on working-class Americans.

That's certainly true when it comes...

Ever since the Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling that allowed sports gambling to explode across the nation, the United States has seen a steady increase in the ready availability of gambling opportunities and apps that are now some of the main advertisers and sponsors for sports coverage of all stripes — from ESPN, Fox, NBC and CBS to the likes of Barstool and podcasts a plenty. Some traditionalists and conservatives are put off by this — gambling, they’ve long argued, is bad for communities and imposes a tax on working-class Americans.

That’s certainly true when it comes to the presence of casinos and the regressive taxation of lotteries. But sports gambling, unlike other forms of gambling, has significant social benefits that should not be ignored.

Sports fandom as such is less rooted in teams nowadays. It doesn’t exist at all in the NBA. It exists in baseball and football, but baseball viewership is declining. Football viewership is obviously robust, but by definition it means people are watching games between two teams they do not root for as tribal fans.

So they need a little something extra to get their juices going. Enter wagering — with props, parlays, and (shudder) teasers of all varieties in order to keep your attention on games that otherwise would leave you bored.

Yes, the morality police will argue that gambling shackles people to material gain and greed. But degenerate gambling of the most absurd sort is really no different from the daily fantasy sports that have been with us for a decade. It gives people the opportunity to become more invested in sports, which by extension promotes camaraderie, community, and brotherhood. In the instance of major wins or losses, it gives people the ability to “love thy neighbor” through the hard times and the good.

In this era of the ever-disposable athlete affiliation, gambling is a true social bond. You may like a player one year and hate him the next, but if he helps you win that long-shot bet, you will be forever his brother, and the brother of all who followed you into that foolish gamble thanks to your convincing argument at the local watering hole.

It’s no accident that some of the greatest Americans — Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Pete Rose, Dave Portnoy, former education secretary Bill Bennett — are dedicated gamblers. Taking a risk on matters of chance is an iconic American activity, and no one should deny it to the average barfly who thinks that, gorrammit, Leonard Fournette is due.

Sports gambling is still gambling, and it still has the natural personal defects of gambling. You may lose the opportunity to take the spouse to a nice dinner, or make the car payment, or ensure your progeny have birthday presents. But give me a bet on whether Cooper Kupp has a touchdown any day over sitting at the slot machine pulling mindlessly in front of the colored wheels, where you’re likely to lose even more and feel worse for it.