NCAA Adjusts To the New Sports Betting Frontier

Almost 15 months after the Supreme Court overturned the gambling monopoly enjoyed by Nevada, the NCAA is struggling to reason with the after-effects of the decision.

In a recent town hall at a gambling conference in Las Vegas, NCAA representatives led a discussion concerning the effect of gambling on the student-athlete.

The town hall discussion came on the heels of the NCAA overturning a rule that prevented states that had legalized gambling from hosting regional and championship events.

The new rule, allowing these tournaments to happen anywhere, has opened the door for cities like Las Vegas to host a Final Four as early as 2027.

Last year’s decision by the Supreme Court has forced the NCAA to rethink their implementation of the old rule after Indiana legalized gambling in May.

With the NCAA’s headquarters located in Indianapolis and the 2021 Final Four scheduled to take place in the city, the organization either had to embrace gambling or move their events.

What Is The Biggest Issue Facing the NCAA’s Move to Embrace Sports Gambling?

The biggest issue facing the NCAA is the possible adoption or restriction of betting kiosks inside facilities that offer live collegiate events.

At the home of Seton Hall, Prudential Center, two gaming operators, Caesars Entertainment and William Hill, maintain betting lounges inside the arena.

With more of this “at the game” type of betting becoming available to gamblers, the NCAA has to decide whether to prohibit betting on their sporting events.

In the case of Seton Hall, located in South Orange, New Jersey, the state has a law forbidding betting on colleges and universities inside the state’s boundaries.

But bettors could come to the Seton Hall game and bet on other events across the country, causing a moral quagmire that the NCAA will have to make tough decisions on what is best for student-athletes.

At the Las Vegas conference, NCAA Vice President of Hearing Operations Naima Stevenson Starks discussed the issue of live betting at events.

After acknowledging that the NCAA is uneasy at the moment allowing live betting, the state laws, like in New Jersey, give them time to decide what is best for all participants.

“That gives us a little bit of comfort that it won’t be immediate,” Starks said.

What About A Rise in Betting Among Some Student-Athletes?

Tom Paskus, the principal research scientist for the NCAA, discussed a rise in betting among collegiate golfers who gamble in a variety of activities, on and off the course.

Mr. Paskus expressed concern that the gambling done by these student-athletes could become a wider problem in other sports with the broad expansion of legal betting.

“It’s an area that hasn’t gone unnoticed in the data over the last few years,” Paskus said.

A recent study showed anecdotal evidence that NCAA golfers were gambling during events, betting against other players to see who would do better on a specific hole.

Stories have arisen that claims the golfers are betting hundreds of dollars per round but Paskus dismissed those claims as absurd.

“We don’t think most of them have the means to be golfing at that level,” he said.

As the NCAA continues to probe what is the positive and negative effects of legal gambling on student-athletes, they may find that the laws go beyond what they feel comfortable in endorsing.