Mobile sports betting arrived in Massachusetts on March 10th.  It was a photo finish; sports pick scammers came in just a “nose” behind.

Massachusetts officials estimate that the Commonwealth will rake in about $60 million each year in sports-wagering tax revenue.  Sounds great, but the real winners will be the casinos and the mobile betting services.  The “house” always wins.  John Q. Public?  Not so often.

I should know.  During my youth, I visited horse racing establishments more frequently than most of my peers.  I seldom returned home with my wallet heavier than when I left.  Exotic bets were my downfall.  Then again, I didn’t fare much better with the straight ones.

In those days, one could buy handicapping picks at the track entrance.  These distinctly colored “sheets” always touted winners, offering convenient betting picks for those too lazy to make their own choices.  At the cost of just a few bucks, the buy-in was reasonable even if the payoffs were suspect.

Today, sports bettors must deal with far more sophisticated scammers.  The internet is awash with them.  All promise to have “inside information” while touting unrealistically high, betting success rates!  A lifetime subscription of “sure thing” picks can be had for, say, $179.  Were the funds at risk just these fees, one might shrug and say, “A fool and his money are soon parted.”

Unfortunately, sports scams have evolved. According to the Better Business Bureau, scammers are establishing sports betting sites and apps that look legitimate but never pay out.  Winning bettors are unable to retrieve their winnings.  When these sites are flagged by credit card processors or legal authorities, they simply close and reappear under a different name.  The worst of these websites misappropriate users’ banking and credit card information.  Naïve gamblers lose far more than just the money wagered.

Is youthful naivete partly to blame?  Young male sports bettors’ first gambling experiences are often with apps or sports books.  The pace is fast, the options are many.  One can pick the winner or just bet on which team scores first.  Money goes quickly.  A rookie’s first gambling lesson can be very costly.

It wasn’t always so. Gone are the three card monte games and similar street scams that taught valuable lessons at reasonable prices.  Ten or twenty dollars a pop.  One lost . . . and learned to be skeptical.  Bank accounts were never at risk.

Today, one can lose as quickly as one’s thumbs can press keys on a phone screen.  Progress?  Perhaps.  But at what cost?  I need no insider information to bet that the societal cost will far exceed the projected tax revenues.  I’d say it’s a sure thing.

Peter Dragone - Co-founder of Keurig.