This past Monday, New Jersey won a landmark ruling to overturn a national ban on sports gambling. Initiated by Governor Chris Christie to help stimulate revenue for New Jersey’s ailing racetracks and casinos, the recession of this law will allow individual states to decide for themselves whether to allow sports gambling. Many, including Governor Christie, have accused the ban as federal overreach.
There is still an ongoing dispute on how exactly this ban will affect sports teams and schools. Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, added his two cents in an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Alley” about the topic:”I think everyone who owns a top four professional sports team just basically saw the value of their team double,” Cuban said. “It can finally become fun to go to a baseball game again.” Cuban sees this law as an opportunity to turn stadiums into casinos. However, how exactly college sports will be affected is up for debate. Mostly since most schools probably won’t create their own in-house casinos.
Mark Cuban admits that the success of sports gambling is in the hands of the state regulators. “It really comes down to what the states do. How the states handle the implementation and whether or not they work together will determine how all this plays out,” Cuban said. “If states are smart, they’ll come together and work on a single solution.” Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and sixteen other states — have either enacted or have considered enacting legislation to allow sports betting.
The NCAA and Sports Gambling
Most colleges have been less optimistic about the ban lift. In an article from The Enquirer, the University of Cincinnati athletic director Mike Bohn is not enthused about the lifted sports ban: “When you recognize that about 30 percent of the legalized gambling in Las Vegas is tied to college sports, you recognize that this decision will require us to devote additional resources for compliance, student-athlete education and efforts to ensure that our programs represent the intercollegiate model that has been a staple for sports fans across the country,” Bohn said. He adds that the ban-lift will add pressure for student-athletes to take bribes.
Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork echoed Bohn’s compliance concerns and even thinks his department have to add a full-time staffer or two to monitor the compliance surrounding gambling.
In another article, this one by the Des Moines Register, Gary Barta, the Iowa athletics director, is also concerned about the gambling ban lift: “I just want to make sure that it doesn’t have any unintended consequences that we’re not thinking about, related to either student-athletes, related to compliance (or) making sure that we don’t have a new gambling force roaming the halls of our sports complex or our campus,” Barta said.
As the excitement and fanfare have started to wind down, more questions remain than answers. How will each state that chooses to allow sports gambling implement the practice? Will you be forced to visit a sports book inside an already established casino or will you be able to use a kiosk at your favorite local watering hole and tease down the second half of a November basketball game between Savannah State and Georgetown?
From a revenue standpoint, how does the NCAA collect a share? Can it? Strongarming states into slicing a piece of the piece and sharing it doesn’t seem reasonable or logical. But what about TV partners? In theory with more people able to wager legally on games, more people will tune in and watch, allowing the NCAA, schools, and conference to command a higher dollar figure for future multimedia rights deals whether traditional TV or new OTT internet services.
And then of course if more revenue begins coming through the door, what happens to player compensation?
We did some clarity from the NCAA on Thursday however, when the association released a statement saying it will allow championship events to be held in states that are home to legalized betting. This is good news for UNLV, which until now has been unable to host any NCAA postseason competition.
But the bottom line remains the same, it’s not clear how exactly colleges will handle this new law. This is uncharted territory for NCAA and the schools. Barta and Bohn admit there are no current plans in place yet.