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Concerns Raised Over NCAA Prop Betting

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Concerns Raised Over NCAA Prop Betting
The Monmouth Park Sports Book. (Photo by Dominick Reuter / AFP)

The issue of betting on college sports in the US is about to come to a head. The November 3 Election saw six jurisdictions either vote to welcome or expand legal sports betting platforms, bringing the total of US states poised to have legal sports betting by next year to over 50%. With increased exposure comes the pressure to expand betting menus, which means college sports is officially on the radar.

The mainstreaming of sports betting is taking place before our very eyes and is forcing lawmakers and regulators to address the potential issues around bets on College Athletes. The pros have signaled that they are all-in on betting on the sport. The NCAA on the other hand has still shown some reluctance.

According to some, betting on individual college athletes looms as a potential threat to the integrity of the games and the players themselves. NCAA officials have suggested that the industry on the whole should restrict the prop betting opportunities on the College kids going forward.

Concerns Overblown?

The “integrity of the game” has long been a concern in the legal sports betting industry. It was only a few years ago that NFL made statements that raised similar concerns about prop bets involving its players.

Those concerns have eased greatly since the 2018 Supreme Court’s decision to lift the blanket ban on legal sports betting in the US. In fact, in the 2 1/2 years since, the league itself, individual NFL teams and even the NFL Players Association has signed on with a legal sports betting provider.

There have so far been no widespread issues with prop betting on NFL teams and its individual players. It gives oxygen to the notion that prop betting on the NCAA is overblown.

The Argument Against Expansion of NCAA Prop Betting

College athletes are in a completely different category than pro athletes. Simply put, college kids have “more to win and more to lose” and are viewed as more easily influenced than their older, more experienced counterparts.

“Unlike the professional leagues, we are now talking about student-athletes attending class with people who may be betting on their efforts on the field or the court,” said Naima Stevenson-Starks, the NCAA’s vice president for law, policy and governance at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), during a two-day online Sports Betting USA 2020 event. “That’s a concern. If you can think about missing a field goal or a free throw that might make the difference in a result, that’s not the most settling thought.”

NCAA Prop Bets as They Stand Now

As of now, there aren’t a whole lot of NCAA prop betting opportunities among sportsbooks located in the US. Offshore books are more apt to offer that type of action. That said, with new states opening up to legal sports betting and jurisdictions such as New Jersey expanding their already impressive platform to include college sports, the spotlight on College players is about to get brighter.

The college prop betting with American sportsbooks seems more concentrated on action about who scores first/last in a College game rather than individual players and their game stats. The US sportsbooks are legislated, highly regulated platforms that have a lot to lose with regard to their standing with US lawmakers. It means that it is in sportsbooks’ interest to protect the “integrity” at all cost.

What is Being Done to Prevent Potential Problems

A national program aimed at minimizing or quashing the issues surrounding prop betting on College sports hasn’t been formed yet – it has been up to individual states to police themselves with regard to corruption or influence of College sports.

And individual states seem to be stepping up. Cathy Judd-Stein, chairwoman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, said one of the things her state will consider in any future legislation to legalize sports betting is “the safety of amateur athletes to protect them against exploitation.” Other states have adopted similar approaches.

In the End

The concerns about prop betting on College sports are legitimate, and they are being addressed. The NFL has taken a leadership role in terms of the easing the tension they had with legal sports betting platforms in relation to interference with the integrity of games.

This issue is going to have to be resolved soon. Colleges, like pro teams have already signaled a willingness to sign sponsorship deals with sports betting operators. The University of Colorado will get at least $1.625 million as part of a five-year advertising agreement with PointsBet.

Like it or not, sports betting is, and will continue to be a huge part of College sports. The NFL should be a good blueprint for the NCAA as College sports navigates the inevitable sports betting alliances.