How to protect your wallet from this disturbing online trend
Ric Edelman: It's Monday, September 18th. Pretty much every episode here on The Truth about your Future is about the trends of the future. And if you've been listening for a long time, you know the future is pretty exciting. But not every trend is a good one. I want to tell you about a disturbing trend that you need to watch out for yourself and for members of your family.
I'm talking about gambling. Sports betting is now available in all 50 states. I'm not just talking about casinos where you have to drive to a place to gamble. I'm talking about you making bets on your cell phone. DraftKings, FanDuel, Barstool, Sportsbook, all are popular sports betting apps. Even ESPN is getting in on it. There used to be a ban on sports betting, but in 2018, the Supreme Court allowed it. Before that, gambling on sports was allowed in only four states. Now it's allowed in 34 states, plus D.C. in 25 states you can bet online.
So guess what? Americans have bet $250 billion on sports since the Supreme Court ruling. Here's the problem. New research shows that nearly 40% of online bettors admit to engaging in problem gambling. The National Council on Problem Gambling gets 30,000 phone calls and texts every month, 21% increase over last year. There are two main reasons for this problem.
First, when I was a kid, I'd bet with my friends about who would win the game. That's one bet over a three-hour event. Today, you don't just bet on the game, though. You can now bet on who's going to score first, whether the next play will be a pass or a run. Who will kick the next field goal in a three hour football game? You can make hundreds of bets for a few dollars each.
The second problem is that of those 25 states that allow online betting, 20 of them have no restrictions about betting with a credit card. It's easy to see why the states are happy to let you bet. They've earned $3.5 billion in tax revenue from sports betting since 2018. People who are gambling addicts will do anything to bet on every single game. They use money they get from student loans. They raid their 401(k). They steal from family members and friends.
The states that got those $3.5 billion in taxes from gambling have spent only $110 million on gambling addiction services. If you need to talk to someone, by the way, call the National Problem Gambling hotline at 800-522-4700.
And one thing I don't want you to do is to think that investing in crypto is gambling. It's not. But so many people think that it is that in the United Kingdom, the Treasury Department had to specifically say that trading in crypto is not gambling. It's easy to see why some people might think trading in Bitcoin is gambling. There are a lot of people who are trying to take advantage of bitcoin's volatility. They want to buy low and sell high and they try it through day trading.
Even more people try to do that in the stock market and they all fail. In my 40 years of being an advisor, I've never met a successful day trader, whether they're trading stocks or commodities or crypto. But some people keep trying and some figure that even though they don't know how to do it themselves. I mean, you don't know how to do it yourself. Some people figure that even though I don't know how to do it, there must be other people who know how to do it. And all I got to do is hire them, give them my money, let them trade for me. All the people who claim that they can make you a fortune by trading on your behalf, they're crooks. At the very least, they're liars.
The SEC just charged a financial advisor with fraud for illegally saying he could generate 2,700% in profits by trading crypto. Titan Global Capital Management is paying $850,000 in fines. Another $200 grand in disgorgement. And it's not just one bad apple financial firm making crazy false claims to get you to send them your money.
There are so many of these crooks all over the Internet that Thailand has just warned Meta, the owner of Facebook, to stop letting these crypto scams on the Facebook site or they'll kick Facebook out of the country. Thailand's Ministry of Digital Economy and Society says more than 200,000 people in Thailand have been harmed by companies they met via Facebook over the past three years. Facebook has eased its restrictions on crypto ads. That has led to a big increase in scammers on the site. It's not just Thailand that's angry with Facebook. Australia is mad too, and they've charged Facebook with false, misleading or deceptive conduct because of all the crypto ads that are scams.
This isn't about crypto. It's about scams. Scam artists will use whatever they think they need to catch your attention. Crypto is an easy tool. Coming soon. I Investment scams. But even though crypto is legit, there's no question that there is a side effect. There are crypto gambling addicts. The National Council on Problem Gambling says that of all the calls for help it has gotten, 19,000 of those calls were from people who said their addiction to gambling is gambling in crypto. The gamblers, they say, tend to be young, male, well-educated and well off. You think these people would know better? Demonstrating gambling is a compulsion. It has nothing to do with intelligence or education.
Like I said, none of this is an indictment of crypto any more than sports betting is an indictment of the NFL. Gambling is an addiction. If you can't bet on sports or crypto, you'll just find something else to bet on. Again, if you need to talk to someone, call the National Problem Gambling Hotline at 800 522 4700.
Okay. Change of gears. I want to talk to you now about food. This has nothing to do with addiction, although, yeah, we know there are food addictions out there. No, what I want to talk about is how innovative technologies are transforming how we produce and distribute food. Yeah, it's a new field called agricultural Technology AgTech. Let me give you five examples of food innovation.
First, there's alternative proteins, plant based or cell based substitutes for protein that we traditionally get from meat, dairy and eggs. Alternative proteins are better for the environment, certainly better for the animals that don't get slaughtered, and we get better nutrition to boot. You've already heard of Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Memphis Meats.
Then there's vertical farming. Imagine a five story building where inside they grow crops. They stack layers of plants under controlled environmental conditions. With vertical farming, we can grow produce right in the city. No need to transport it across the country. That's a big deal because transportation is the biggest cost of agriculture. Vertical farming produces more crops per acre, cuts down on land use and water use lets us grow crops all year round. The biggest names in vertical farming are Plenty Aerofarms and Bowery farming.
Another big aspect of AgTech is reduction in food waste by streamlining the supply chain. We reduce the amount of food that spoils, that gets more food to more people, saves money, reduces greenhouse gases. Apeel Sciences, Winnow Solutions, Too Good To Go. They're all leaders in this area.
And you've heard of personalized medicine. A subset of that is personalized nutrition. They use genomics microbiomics, metabolomics to tailor dietary recommendations and products for you individually. The result you get better health and fewer chronic diseases. Habit, Viome, Day Two. They are all personalized nutrition companies.
And finally, AgTech is using blockchain crypto lets food products record and verify the origin, the quality and the movement of food along the supply chain. Blockchain improves transparency, efficiency and trust. If there's a salmonella breakout, we can trace it to the specific field and the specific farm. That means we don't have to destroy the entire nation's supply of lettuce, just the lettuce that came from that one field. And we can warn the specific households that bought that specific head of lettuce and we can get that information out to them almost instantly. We improve public safety. We save a ton of money. Big companies in the space include IBM, Provenance and Ripe IO.
I think you can see why I'm excited about this market sector. That's why I own the Global X AgTech and Food Innovation ETF. The symbol is KROP, like “ crop”. It invests in companies that are developing or deploying disruptive technologies and cultivation methods, precision agriculture, agricultural, robotics, controlled environment, agriculture and agricultural biotech, all designed to increase agricultural productivity and sustainability. Check it out at Global X ETFs.com. Or ask your financial advisor about the Global X AgTech and Food Innovation ETF, symbol KROP.