NCAA opposed to sports betting
For many years, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) worked alongside the other major sports organizations in the US – the NBA, NHL, MLB, and NFL – to prevent sports betting being legalized.
However, in May 2018 following a vote by the Supreme Court, the federal ban on sports betting came to an end. Since then, a number of states have made sports betting legal, with many others also on the way to doing so.
Since then, most of the sports leagues have embraced sports betting and sought ways to get their own slice of the action. They have partnered with gambling companies, sought integrity fees and struck deals to license their exclusive data.
The NCAA is the lone major sports group that has not taken this approach. It remains firmly opposed to sports betting.
A ban on athletes betting?
One of the main reasons the NCAA is so against sports betting is the potential it creates for corruption in its events. There are concerns that because college athletes do not receive payment for playing sports, that they may turn to match-fixing and sports betting to earn money.
This issue also concerns some officials in the lower levels of professional sports, such as in Minor League Baseball.
It makes sense that NCAA athletes should not be able to place bets on fixtures that involve their own team, or even betting on games in the same sport. However, it seems the NCAA does not want its athletes placing bets on any sports.
NCAA president Mark Emmert commented recently that its athletes would not be able to place sports bets on college events or professional events alike.
“We want a prohibition. The membership wants a prohibition of athletes gambling in any sports, period.”
Emmert made his remarks as March Madness, the highly popular college basketball tournament, was coming to a close.
Ironically, March Madness is set to bring in the largest sports betting revenues seen in the US to date. Some believe that sports bets worth more than $8.5bn will have been wagered during the course of the event.
Athletes could circumvent ban
Much as the NCAA is keen to prevent its athletes from partaking in sports betting, it will be hard to police. The organization would need to commit massive resources in order to monitor athletes’ betting activity.
There are also many ways in which athletes could get around a ban. The NCAA has over the years struggled to implement other bans, such as recruiting practices to college programs. So it would need to consider whether to commit resources to another hefty undertaking.
Many NCAA athletes already believe that there are too many restrictions on them. They are not paid for their services when playing their given sport, apart from scholarships, yet the NCAA and the colleges make massive sums from college sports.
The players do not even receive compensation for their image rights, which is a major point of contention. This means that athletes are not able to profit from their likeness or their name. There is currently a strong movement to change the practice of athletes not getting proper compensation.
Emmert conceded that a conversation on this issue needs to take place. He said: “We’ve obviously talked to [Rep. Mark Walker] and are trying to understand his position and trying to make sure he understands ours.
“There is very likely to be in the coming months even more discussion about the whole notion of name, image, and likeness, and how it fits into or doesn’t fit into the current legal framework and the environment of college sports.”