California “Pay to Play” Law Could Have Impact on Sports Betting

California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill into law this week that will allow college student-athletes in the state to receive endorsement money starting in 2023. Now, a lot of people are wondering if this initial wave will make its way to the shores of sports betting.

The NCAA currently bans college student-athletes from earning any type of money from their participation in athletic events or promotional actions.

However, Senate Bill 206 will allow California college student-athletes to profit from the use of their name, image and likeness. The bill was introduced by State Senators Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) with bipartisan-sponsored support.

“This is the beginning of a national movement – one that transcends geographic and partisan lines,” Newsom said. “Collegiate student-athletes put everything on the line – their physical health, future career prospects, and years of their lives to compete. Colleges reap billions from these student-athletes’ sacrifices and success. But, in the same breath, block them from earning a single dollar.

“That’s a bankrupt model – one that puts institutions ahead of the students they are supposed to serve. It needs to be disrupted.”

NCAA Reaction

Considering the NCAA was heavily opposed to sports betting, there’s no way they’re going to like this new movement.

“The NCAA opposes all forms of legal and illegal sports wagering, which has the potential to undermine the integrity of sports contests and jeopardizes the welfare of student-athletes and the intercollegiate athletics community,” an NCAA statement proclaims.

The NCAA fought tooth-and-nail against the initial ruling by New Jersey to get sports betting legalized in its state, and even counseled California lawmakers to go against this “Pay to Play” movement – not one single “no” vote came from either the Assembly or Senate.

There are plenty of people that disagree with the NCAA’s way of thinking and feel like it’s hypocritical to stop these collegiate student-athletes from making money. After all, it’s these kids that are lining the pockets of these institutions at the end of the day. Yet, it’s the institutions that are taking every single dollar and cent, while the student-athlete isn’t as lucky.

“Amateur athletes are at the highest risk because there are no paychecks. They don’t make any money,” Las Vegas oddsmaker Kenny White said in response to a question whether this would lead to a student-athlete accepting a bribe to fixing a game.

While the NCAA will continue to get in the way, like they usually do, there are plenty of people who absolutely love the “Pay to Play” movement. The most famous one of them all being NBA superstar LeBron James.

“Part of the reason I went to the NBA (and skipped college) was to get my mom out of the situation she was in,” said James. “I couldn’t have done that with the current rules in place. This bill will help student-athletes who are in a similar situation.”

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