Causal – PhilsFan1133

The Impact of Online Sports Betting on Point Shaving in Sports

Point shaving is a form of sports corruption where athletes deliberately perform below their capabilities in a game, thereby losing by a margin lower than the spread. This practice has been prevalent in American sports for decades, with several high-profile cases surfacing over the years. While there are various factors that drive athletes to engage in point shaving, one of the most significant is the rise of online sports betting.

Online sports betting has exploded in popularity over the past decade, with millions of people placing bets on games and matches every day. According to a report by Grand View Research, the global online gambling market size was valued at USD 53.7 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.5% from 2020 to 2027. This tremendous growth in the online gambling industry has had a direct impact on the incidence of point shaving in sports.

One of the main reasons why online betting has contributed to the rise of point shaving is the ease with which bets can be placed on individual games and the availability of real-time updates on the betting market. With the advent of online sportsbooks and mobile betting apps, anyone with an internet connection can place a bet on a game from anywhere in the world. This has led to a massive increase in the volume of bets being placed on games and matches, and consequently, a rise in the size of the gambling market.

As the size of the gambling market has grown, so too has the amount of money being wagered on point spreads. A point spread is a handicap placed on the team that is considered the favorite to win a game, in order to level the playing field and make betting more attractive. For example, if the Boston Celtics are playing the New York Knicks and are favored to win by 10 points, the point spread would be set at 10 points. Bettors who place a bet on the Celtics would only win if they win by more than 10 points, while those who bet on the Knicks would win if the Knicks lose by less than 10 points or win outright.

This is where point shaving comes in. Athletes who are willing to engage in point shaving can deliberately underperform in a game, thereby allowing their opponents to keep the score within the point spread. This benefits the athletes who have bet on the underdog, as well as the corrupt bettors who have offered them incentives to shave points. In this way, point shaving allows both athletes and bettors to profit from the game, at the expense of the integrity of the sport.

It is important to note that not all athletes are susceptible to point shaving. For an athlete to be a likely candidate for corruption, they must have the ability to alter the final score by enough to keep it within the point spread, without altering the outcome of the game. This typically requires a high degree of skill and control over the game, as well as a willingness to engage in unethical behavior. Athletes who are struggling with financial or personal issues may be more susceptible to these pressures, making them more likely to engage in point shaving.

The causal connection between online betting and point shaving is not a new one. In fact, it has been a topic of debate among sports analysts and researchers for years. A study conducted by economists David Forrest and Ian McHale at the University of Liverpool found that the increased availability of online betting markets was associated with a higher incidence of match-fixing in soccer. Similarly, a report by the International Centre for Sport Security found that online betting was one of the main drivers of sports corruption worldwide.

The rise of online sports betting has increased the likelihood of point shaving, where athletes intentionally alter the score of a game without altering the outcome in order to benefit from the point spread. The athlete or referee involved in point shaving must have the ability to alter the final score by enough to meet the spread, making the choice to cheat based on financial incentives much easier.

The NCAA and professional sports leagues have attempted to combat point shaving by increasing penalties for athletes caught participating in such activities. However, the rise of online sports betting and the anonymity it provides to bettors makes it difficult to detect and prevent point shaving.

One study conducted by researchers at the University of Louisville found that the prevalence of point shaving was higher in games with larger point spreads and higher amounts of money bet on the game. This supports the idea that financial incentives play a large role in the decision to engage in point shaving.

Furthermore, the study found that athletes who came from disadvantaged backgrounds and had financial pressures were more likely to engage in point shaving. This highlights the importance of addressing the financial well-being of athletes, particularly those from marginalized communities, in preventing point shaving.

While there are efforts underway to combat sports corruption, such as increased monitoring and regulation of online sportsbooks, there is still much work to be done. Athletes must be educated about the dangers of point shaving and the negative impact it has on the integrity of the game, as well as the legal and ethical consequences they may face if caught participating in such activities. By increasing awareness and providing resources for athletes to manage financial pressures, sports organizations can work towards preventing point shaving and ensuring fair play on the field. Additionally, the regulation of online sports betting and increased transparency in the industry may help to reduce the financial incentives for point shaving and discourage individuals from participating in such activities.

In conclusion, the rise of online sports betting has increased the likelihood of point shaving in team sports, particularly in games with large point spreads and high amounts of money bet on the game. The financial incentives provided by online betting make it easier for athletes and referees to justify the decision to cheat, and those from disadvantaged backgrounds may be particularly susceptible. It is important for sports organizations to prioritize the financial well-being of athletes and implement effective measures to detect and prevent point shaving in order to maintain the integrity of the game.


Purdum, David (2021, September 22). Explaining point-shaving in sports.

NCAA. (2022). NCAA sports wagering.

University of Louisville. (2016, November 15). Study finds student-athletes from disadvantaged backgrounds more likely to cheat. ScienceDaily.

Wolfers, J. (2006, January 22). Cheating by the Book. The New York Times.

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1 Response to Causal – PhilsFan1133

  1. davidbdale says:

    Blame Point Shaving on Online Betting
    The obvious Causal connection you need to draw, PhilsFan, is between the rapid acceleration of online sports betting and the likelihood of point shaving. Your Definition argument lays out a generalized case for the existence of sports cheating that will not stretch anybody’s imagination. You depend heavily on Wolfers, whose conclusions are arguable at best. So, let’s lay the groundwork here. “Throwing a game” by losing is extremely unlikely except in an individual sport and in a single match the individual can afford to lose. This is the case of the sumo wrestlers who “trade” losses to their mutual benefit. YOU NEED to identify the sort of contest in which an individual athlete in a team game can ALTER THE SCORE without ALTERING THE OUTCOME, a special case in which bettors have a BIG STAKE in the SPREAD. That’s the job of the Definition Argument. Then you need to identify the ATHLETE who is a likely candidate for corruption. Corrupt bettors have to offer that athlete MORE to win by a little than to win by a lot. Those athletes (or referees) need THE ABILITY to alter the final score BY ENOUGH. These are the causal requirements for your successful argument. Does the astronomical increase in money riding on a point-spread outcome qualify as sufficient motivation to “throw” a game? For the bettors?: Sure. For the player?: That’s for you to prove.


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