In May 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, effectively allowing states to have the authority to legalize sports betting. In response to the ruling, the NCAA has swiftly taken action to form a new committee to monitor such gambling within the college ranks.
While it seems that the NCAA has done a good job so far of preventing any serious scandals relating to this topic, its job of preserving the integrity of its sponsored sports will only get harder as more and more states make the move to legalize sports betting.
As it stands, only eight states have legalized the practice. Two states, New York and Arkansas, have since passed state legislation that has not yet been deemed effective. Meanwhile, many others, such as Texas and California, have recently introduced bills onto their respective state Senate floors.
Before the Supreme Court ruling, Nevada was the only state with legal sportsbooks. Now that betting will be more readily accessible across the country, the growth of that business is set to skyrocket.
The College Football Playoff and March Madness will continue to be the most popular events for bettors. In 2018, more than $300 million worth of legal bets were placed in Vegas sportsbooks for March Madness.
The variability and unexpected results that come along with college sports, especially March Madness, will continue to draw bettors in because of the potential for huge paydays. Also, college games are more likely to produce blowout results as opposed to professional leagues, where the competition is much closer.
The hope is that with the expansion of legalized gambling, more people will have accessibility to legal forms of betting. Diminishing the billions of dollars placed in unofficial bets across the country will help the NCAA control any wrongdoings.
A major concern, however, is the sheer expanse of college athletics. With so many games across so many different sports happening all over the country, how can it all be regulated and controlled?
Football and basketball are just two sports under the NCAA’s umbrella. Yes, they are the most talked about and followed by fans — but what about all the other sports?
It’s completely legal for someone in New Jersey to place a bet on a women’s field hockey game, as obscure as it may seem. It will be interesting to see what trends arise for some of the more off-the-cuff sports. Trends of fixing the results of games, matches, etc. in professional ranks have occurred in lower leagues, where there isn’t a huge public eye following every move, so it will certainly be up to the NCAA to keep an eye on each school and team.
The NCAA maintains that, as with all of its practices, the priority remains the well-being of student-athletes. And if the NCAA continues to be on top of the ball, there’s no reason why the effects of sports betting would be entirely negative. In fact, it’s likely to be the other way around.
Studies show there are positive effects on the economy for states that legalize sports betting. Not only would states profit, but NCAA member schools and conferences are also set to bring in profit from potential partnerships with sportsbooks and casinos.
Of course, this is a delicate issue to balance alongside the talks of providing compensation for student-athletes. While all other parties will be soaking up the money, the athletes themselves will continue to make nothing.
This is where a potential issue could arise. On the previously mentioned topic of match-fixing, student-athletes could easily start being approached with payment to go out of their way to impact the result of a game.
Ultimately, this is just another issue for the NCAA to carefully manage. While many people say it is only a matter of time before a major sports-betting scandal erupts on a college campus, the NCAA has the tools necessary to prevent that.
Charlie Griffen writes the Tuesday sports column about the evolution and current trends of college athletics. Contact him at [email protected].