Gambling on Disability Rights

Covo, Yaron

In light of the recent legalization of sports betting across the United States, leading American sports organizations have increased their efforts to protect the integrity of their competitions. These efforts include the implementation and enforcement of what this Article calls “anti-tipping rules,” which are internal rules prohibiting athletes and other personnel from disclosing nonpublic information that can be used by gamblers. Under these rules, the disclosure of information about athletes’ psychosocial impairments might be considered prohibited “tipping,” because these impairments may affect athletes’ availability for and performance in sporting events.

This Article argues that anti-tipping rules may encourage athletes to mask their impairments, leading to a chilling effect on the disclosure of information about mental health in the sporting arena. As a result, these rules may adversely affect psychosocially disabled athletes in at least three distinct ways: (1) They may exacerbate pre-existing impairments by preventing diagnosis, treatment, and the therapeutic impact of disclosure; (2) they may discourage athletes from seeking reasonable accommodations or modifications under the Americans with Disabilities Act; and (3) they may perpetuate the stigma of mental health issues and hinder a rising movement of athletes seeking to create a new, more accurate narrative of psychosocial disability.

This Article examines these overlooked consequences of anti-tipping rules and, drawing on U.S. insider trading law, proposes several strategies to address these detrimental effects.


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Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts

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June 18, 2020