Separating Fact from Fiction: Do Major Sporting Events Attract Increases in Incidents of Commercial Sex Trafficking?

Owen K. Waterman

The Super Bowl is the most profitable sporting event in the world with a 2016 revenue of at least $620 million. From Super Bowl ads to fan merchandise, the National Football League’s siren call to the masses is that there is money to be made and spent in a Super Bowl host city. Aside from the many fans attending the game, there are other spectators that will be looking to cash in on the wave of dollars flowing into the host city with promises of carnal delights if you can afford them.

This white paper will explore the often made claim that when major sporting events come to a host city there will be a corresponding increase in incidents of commercial sex trafficking. Through literature reviews, media reports, academic research papers and interviews, this white paper intends to provide clarity to a topic where there is scant empirical evidence and an overabundance of anecdotal data. It should be noted that this paper is not designed to discuss or debate the legal, social or moral aspects of prostitution nor does it intend to conflate commercial sex trafficking of minors and adults with consensual adult prostitution. In addition, this white paper will be focusing on the human trafficking subgroup of sex trafficking and not labor trafficking.

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