Gambling! It’s here. In the NBA, and all other sports. Legalized, digitized, and industrialized with a fervor that’s been gobsmacking to behold. It all started, really, in 2018—that’s when The Supreme Court of The United States struck down a federal ban on the stuff, paving the way for states to decide for themselves on the matter. In the six years since, the majority of them have opted to open up the risky floodgates for their citizens, and it’s all now worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

The money is in your face when you watch a game, listen to a podcast about it, or even experience the NBA in more passive and unintentional ways. Gambling company advertisements are now a fact of life like Coca-Cola or McDonald’s. I don’t know the difference between DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, BetRivers, or PrizePicks, but I know that they are all new quasi-religious nouns in our society, which is drunk on growth and looking for the next fix of it wherever it may come.

This particular source of extended capital production is obviously dubious—bubble-like, over-hyped, over-saturated—but it is also important to note that it is desperate. A solid financial plan, personal or organizational, does not involve making your bottom line dependent on soul-sick dollars thrown away on deranged wish-casting. For the NBA, there is a product: live basketball, in person and on television, and all the in-stadium consumables and merchandise that comes with that. It’s a huge, huge product, but the voracious logic of everything suggests it isn’t big enough, yet, so now there’s a path to further enlargement, based on perpetually taxing losers for putting too much hope into the athletes they watch on TV.

Yuck. The scandals have only begun. Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff says that some grimy guys have told him they know where he lives, and who his kids are. Indefinitely suspended Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter may have ended his career by trying to juice “under” bets against himself, for extra income. As I have previously written, the 1991 goofball action thriller The Last Boy Scout, in which a football player kills himself on the field after getting too deep into the sea of gambling, no longer seems so absurd.

It is all, no doubt, a Faustian situation. For the same reason that the NBA’s regular season is unlikely to ever be shortened, we shouldn’t anticipate any end—or even regulation—to the current onslaught of gambling business. No one, the conventional wisdom tells us, is going to say yes to less money. And, short of genocide or human trafficking, they’re going to approve any plan with a blueprint for creating more of it. Plus, legally speaking, there’s nothing wrong with the Porter or Bickerstaff alarm signals; these, a defense would tell us, are exceptional cases, and rules for dealing with them already exist. They do not change the fabric of the game.

And what a highfalutin thing to discuss, anyway, right? The fabric of the game; the “spirit” of it, or however you want to refer to the NBA’s metaphysical and moral qualities. That same voracious logic that demands further growth also dismisses concerns like these; if it can’t be properly quantified, then we’re not going to hold a meeting about it. Come back when you’ve got some numbers, and spare us your pearl-clutching. Perhaps that’s all that this recent flare-up of concerns about legalized gambling is. Maybe cynicism is the right response to it. In the land of the free, why can’t people seek oblivion by pinning their bank accounts to the highs and lows of professional athletes every night? Worse things are certainly happening in society.

But no one really believes this way of thinking it through. Instead: dread, a tense wait for more shoes to drop. There is no reversing the flow of money now, so we’ll just have to see what it leads to. Like a man coughing, pooping, sweating, and puking his way through a sickness, the NBA will now be weathering various strange controversies as a part of what is maybe a process toward better future health. And it will take some much bigger blow-ups before anything is seriously done about the situation.