NCAA Looks For Federal Sports Betting Legislation

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) have begun collaborating on steps to bring federal legislation to sports betting in college sports. This legislation would look a lot like the Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act that was put forward by Schumer and former Sen. Orrin Hatch, who has since retired, but it never got where it needed to be.

It’s important to note here, though, that’s there is no timeline for when Schumer and Romney will be introducing this bill.

Ultimately, the NCAA would just like to do away with sports betting in college sports, but it doesn’t appear like that will happen anytime soon.

“We are absolutely supportive of federal regulation,” NCAA vice president of hearing operations Naima Stevenson Starks said. “It’s fairly daunting to think that every state would have a different set of regulations. Having some minimum standards, we are very supportive of and have been an active proponent of.”

None of the states that have legalized sports betting have banned wagering on collegiate events. States like New Jersey and New York have prohibited bettors from wagering on games involving in-state schools.

NCAA president Mark Emmert has been vocal about a ban on collegiate sports wagering to be included in any federal legislation. Stevenson Starks did say that anything of that nature would be challenged unless all states weren’t allowed to take bets on college sports, including the states that are already doing so.

“The Supreme Court, in its decision, has made it somewhat challenging for a complete carve-out on college athletics to not be something that would be legally challenged at the end of the day,” Stevenson Starks said. “Certainly, if there were the ability to have some kind of carve-out on college athletics altogether, that would be something that I know most would be supportive of.

“Whether or not that would be something that the federal legislation that’s being proposed would do, given that states are already doing it, I think that might be a challenge for the bill potentially getting passed, which is the ultimate goal.”

Last year’s bill introduced by Schumer and Hatch did not have a prohibition on sports betting.

Planning Ahead

Meanwhile, the NCAA has begun classes and informational sessions for the student-athletes and referees, now dealing with the new set of circumstances. It’s a haunting feeling for the NCAA to know that the players and referees are in the territories with legal gambling taking place right down the street. In addition, the NCAA has been doing more thorough background checks for referees.

The NCAA has entered into a formal partnership with a company overseas to monitor sports betting markets both domestically and internationally. Also, an ad hoc committee on sports betting was created by the NCAA board of governors.

Last month, many called for the NCAA to give detailed player injury reports, just like we see in professional sports. However, the sports wagering committee said that reporting player availability “would not advance student-athlete well-being nor protect the integrity of competition.”

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