In having a class recently read several chapters of Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, I was struck by one of the conclusions:
In the field of its highest development, in the United States, the pursuit of wealth, stripped of its religious and ethical meaning, tends to become associated with purely mundane passions, which often actually give it the character of sport.
According to Weber, by the early 1900s the practice of capitalism in the United States was taking on “the character of sport.”
How much more might this be true today? I then read a story about betting on the weather is taking off:
Weather betting emerged and gained popularity during the pandemic.
“When the pandemic hit and sports shut down in March, most people will remember the NCAA tournament was canceled and within a day virtually everything shut down. There was nothing to bet on. The sports world naturally shut down and sports books were looking for something to attract customers. One of the popular things that emerged was betting on Russian table tennis and another was betting on the weather,” says Holden…
“There will be a proposition like, ‘Will there be rain on this day?’ and then individuals can select yes or no. Much like in over under betting for sports, the bookmaker sets a line where the total points can either go over or under and the better selects which will occur.”
Betting laws are strict in the U.S. and at the moment, weather betting is not regulated. However, it is allowed in places like Canada where sportsbooks are taking bets on the weather.
Some might say that betting on the weather is just another opportunity for gamblers to try to make money and for those in the gambling industry to make money. Following the quote from Weber above, perhaps it is just another outworking of capitalism in the United States. Why not make it like a sport? Why not try to generate money off the weather?