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Use sports gaming proceeds for youth sports | READER COMMENTARY

Customers line up to place wagers in the sports betting lounge at the Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City N.J. on Sept. 9, 2018. The coronavirus outbreak has added new wrinkles for bettors this year, but even so, the nation's sportsbooks expect a record year of bets on football in 2020 from an antsy public that has been cooped up for months amid the pandemic. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)
Customers line up to place wagers in the sports betting lounge at the Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City N.J. on Sept. 9, 2018. The coronavirus outbreak has added new wrinkles for bettors this year, but even so, the nation's sportsbooks expect a record year of bets on football in 2020 from an antsy public that has been cooped up for months amid the pandemic. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry) (Wayne Parry/AP)

In Maryland, Question 2 on the statewide ballot is about authorizing sports betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education (“Question 2 asks Marylanders to legalize sports betting. Where? Which sports? For exactly what purposes? Stay tuned,” Sept. 30). For many, education means normal hours of public schools. However, if sports betting is approved and the state legislator simply applies betting revenue to fund schools during regular hours, then the state will be missing an opportunity to help youth from its most under-served communities, especially in Baltimore.

For some countries, the revenue from sports betting goes to support youth sports so everyone can play. In the U.S., most youth sports require a fee along with purchasing necessary equipment and uniforms. For youth from low-income communities, these are expenses that many cannot afford. As a result, nonprofits have sprung up across the country, including Baltimore, to provide free or low cost sports programs, usually after school, for vulnerable youth. Many of these nonprofits also provide additional positive youth development including academic support through general homework help, literacy and STEAM, mentoring, college prep and career planning.

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These programs are providing critical education support that makes it possible for these vulnerable youth to stay on track in school. In Baltimore alone, there are such nonprofits that were helping over 4,000 youngsters before the pandemic. Now more than ever, these organizations and the youth they serve need more support to continue these critical programs during and after the pandemic.

Rob Smith, Silver Spring

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