Gambling & Risk Taking: NCAA worried about athletes betting as sports wagering expands Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports · May 29, 2019 at 10:34 am Officials with collegiate athletics leading governing body are concerned student athletes will bet on sports in greater numbers now that states are legalizing sports wagering. The NCAA is also worried legal sportsbooks will add more college events to their betting menu. In a study conducted by the NCAA prior to last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed states to legalize sports wagering, 24 percent of men and 5 percent of women said they violated the organization’s bylaws within the previous year by wagering on sports for money. NFL wagering leadthe way followed by college basketball tournament bracket pools, NBA games and college football. The good news? Gambling rates were down from previous surveys. But could that change. In the 12 months, seven states joined Nevada in offering single-game wager. Another six states could be operational in 2019. Some 29 states are exploring legalization within the next five years. “We recognized similar to the marijuana conversation that when something becomes legal for our student athletes, in particular, that can become confusing,” said Naima Stark, deputy general counsel for the NCAA who appeared on a panel: The Changing Landscape of Sports Wagering and the Impact on NCAA Competition. Stark took part in the International Conference on Gaming & Risk Taking at Caesars Palace. The conference is produced by UNLV’s International Gaming Institute. “They might think it’s OK to do so something that is no longer illegal in states,” Stark said. “That is similar for gambling, but it is still impermissible for student athletes to smoke marijuana. Similarly, gambling from our policy is a violation that can impact eligibility. We have to make sure our student athletes understand that even though the legal environment has changed. The NCAA rules have not changed at this moment in time.” As for the other ways legalized sports wagering has impacted college athletes, Starks said “one of the things we can hypnotize is that most betting outfits like content because they want people to be able to come in at all times and bet on competition.” The NCAA has several competitions beyond the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments for which it’s known, Stark said. There’s golf, baseball and softball that are conducting championships now. “There will be seasons throughout the year where there might be a down time like right now where there’s not a whole lot of competition outside of baseball going on domestically,” Stark said. “We learned that the men’s lacrosse championship had a betting line in some sports books. That is different, and we might see these things increase. We have wrestling around the time of the Final Four. Certain parts of the country might put a line on that.” That’s one reason why the NCAA has hired an integrity services partner to do a risk assessment of NCAA sports to make sure they understand what competitions are being bet on, Stark said. “We have always had information relationships to keep the pulse on the environment and after the Supreme Court we thought it was important to formalize a relationship,” Stark said. “We’ve entered into a long-term relationship for monitoring services, and we are keeping an eye out for the integrity of the game-related issues and any anomalies.” The NCAA has done away with its policy of prohibiting states with sports betting from hosting NCAA competitions since so many states legalized it and more are on the way, Stark said. It wouldn’t be practical given the expansion to other states outside of Nevada, she said. If venues hosting events, however, started having betting parlors within the facility, the NCAA would consider whether they should be closed during their competitions. With the expansion of sports betting, Stark said there’s growing concerns that athletes or their families could be targeted at a sporting event or outside the venue. Television often shows the families of players so that adds to the concern, she said. “Imagine someone missing a free throw and the implication for that player’s family or that student athlete because people have access they don’t have for professional athletes,” Stark said. Athletes providing information on injuries for the purposes of someone making a wager remains a violation that can lead to suspension. There will be discussion on whether the NCAA needs to go the route of professional sports and provide such player information, but Stark said that is collectively bargained at the professional level. Student athletes have rights to protect their medical and other personal information that makes it more difficult to do it at the collegiate level, she said.