Sharp Law Firm Scholarship Winner:
Should Gambling Be Legalized?

In May 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on online sports betting. This historic ruling effectively gave states the ability to decide for themselves whether or not to allow sports gambling within their borders. Prior to this ruling, Nevada was the only state where someone could bet on a game.

Since then, many states have legalized sports betting, and several other states are in the process of legalizing it. Before the Supreme Court ruling, one research firm estimated 32 states would likely offer sports betting within 5 years after the federal ban was lifted—a prediction that turned out to be right on the money.

At last count, 32 states and the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.) have legalized sports betting to some extent, while sports gambling is still illegal in 18 states.

Texas is among the few states that have not yet legalized sports gambling. A sports betting bill was proposed in the 2021 Texas legislature, but it ultimately failed.

Essentially, online sports gambling is in the opposite position as marijuana legalization. While the federal government has ended the federal ban and paved the way for individual states to legalize sports betting, Texas and a handful of other states have yet to allow it. On the contrary, some states have chosen to legalize recreational marijuana, despite the fact that the substance is still considered illegal by the federal government.

With a majority of states now opening the door to gambling through online sports betting, a debate is growing about whether or not gambling as a whole should be legalized nationwide. In light of this conversation, we decided to focus on this very topic in our latest scholarship essay contest in which college students can submit essays for a shot at winning a $1,000 scholarship privately funded by the Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp.

This was our 3rd scholarship contest, and we were thrilled to receive submissions from all over the country. In the end, we selected Marisa Mullins as our scholarship winner. Marisa is a law student at Widener University Delaware Law School in Wilmington, Delaware.

Without further ado, here is Marisa’s winning essay to our contest question:

Should all gambling be legalized now that online sports gambling is legal? Why or why not?

Absolutely. I believe all gambling should be legalized due to the significant positive social and economic benefits. I encourage proponents to look to my home state of Delaware. An early adopter of various legalized gambling initiatives, Delaware exemplifies numerous positive impacts possible through legalized gambling.

1) Positive Social Benefit

Widespread legal gambling can have substantial positive social impact. First, legalized gambling creates a safer, more regulated environment. Illegal gambling has historically been tied to organized crime including the American mafia. In contrast to such illegal operations, legalized gambling provides for employment screening and background checks, as well as fairness/oversight of games and betting operations. For persons deterred by illegal or underground gambling, it provides the ability to participate in the industry.

Next, legalizing gambling would help mitigate gambling associated stigmas. Thus, more gamblers may be willing to seek help; this is particularly relevant for gamblers facing addiction or participating in illegal gambling (i.e., in Utah, Idaho, and Wisconsin where sports betting is still illegal). In Delaware, free counseling is available state-wide for anyone experiencing gambling related hardships (services are funded through revenue generated from Delaware’s legal gambling industry).

2) Powerful Economic Impact

Legalization of all gambling would allow for substantial amounts of tax revenues to flow into programs supporting our communities; across the U.S., states have used legal gambling tax proceeds to revitalize schools, increase services for the elderly, and provide addiction support services. Communities reap large impact fees from construction and development, as well as ancillary revenue from parking, income, and sales taxes. The rapidly growing online gambling sector provides a new revenue center for states to capitalize on—the segment is forecast to grow at a rate of 12.3% per year through 2030.

The creation of legal casinos serves as an economic catalyst pumping millions of dollars in the communities in which they are developed and supporting thousands of jobs both directly and indirectly. It is estimated that legal sports betting alone supports nearly $11 Billion dollars in annual employee income (i.e., salaries, gratuities, wages, benefits). In Dover, Delaware (the closest casino to my childhood home), Dover Downs Casino grew to become much more than just a casino. The complex now includes a large hotel and conference center, numerous shops, restaurants, a day spa, concert/festival venue, NASCAR racetrack, and horseracing. The development and growth of the casino-anchored center ultimately made it a regional tourism destination, and, collectively, one of the area’s largest employers.

An important caveat to my position: cruel and inhuman gambling (i.e., dog fighting, cock fighting) should remain illegal and be eradicated. Hopefully, participants would be swayed to participate in expanded legal gambling options such as legitimate sports betting. Ideally, the social and economic benefits of legalized gambling can be expanded throughout the United States—allowing other communities to realize the many positive impacts Delaware has enjoyed.


1 Global Online Gambling Market Report (2021 – 2030). COVID-19 Growth and Change. May 2021.

2 The Benefits of Legalizing Gambling in the United States. April 2020.

About our scholarship winner

2021 essay contest scholarship winner Marisa Mullins

Marisa Mullins currently works full-time for a Delaware real estate brokerage, as well as a marketing and consulting group. When she’s not overseeing strategic growth, operations, recruitment and marketing, she somehow finds the time to pursue a Juris Doctorate degree from Delaware Law School, Wilmington, where she is on the Dean’s List. In addition, she is raising 2 toddlers.

Participate in our next scholarship essay contest

This scholarship contest has closed, but our firm frequently offers scholarship opportunities to eligible college students. We invite you to visit our Scholarship page to see when the next contest will start and learn how to participate.

In addition, be sure to check out previous scholarship contest winners:

If you have any questions about the essay requirements or the selection process, feel free to contact us.