NCAA troubled by betting

In case you missed ESPN’s hyperbolic exposition of “bracketology” this weekend, the berths for the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament have been announced, beginning one of bookies’ favorite times of the year, March Madness. And the NCAA is shocked, yes, shocked that people gamble on the tournament, and suggests that the best way to end this national rite is to usurp the right of the people of Nevada to decide whether or not their state should offer legal sports betting.

From the Mercury News:


Moments after CBS announces the NCAA Tournament brackets, the real madness begins.

In offices from coast to coast, more than 10 percent of Americans toss a dollar or two into the pool and fill out their brackets in hopes of a modest payoff.

In Las Vegas, sports book directors scramble to set point spreads and create dozens of side bets.

In homes across America, gamblers mouse their way to an estimated 2,000 Internet gambling sites.

In exotic locales such as Antigua and Costa Rica, hard drives spin and phones ring as Web sites process transaction after transaction in what is believed to be a $3.7 billion industry.

In dorm rooms, student bookmakers take bets from their classmates, some of whom are likely student-athletes.

In Bradley Beach, N.J., a former compulsive gambler who runs a help hotline prepares for the yearly deluge of inquiries from worried gamblers.

And in Indianapolis, NCAA officials try to find ways to curb the rampant proliferation of wagering on an event that is surpassed only by the Super Bowl in the minds and pocketbooks of avid sports bettors.

Madness, indeed.

Bill Saum, the NCAA’s director of gambling activities, said the organization decries all forms of gambling on college sports. That includes the ubiquitous office pools, in which an NCAA survey says 10.7 percent of Americans participate.

“It’s a philosophical statement, but it’s also our rule,” Saum said.

In fact, it’s part of NCAA Bylaw 10.3, which forbids not only college-sports wagering by student-athletes and athletic personnel, but also the sharing of information with gamblers.

In the 1990s, a handful of point-shaving scandals at prominent universities such as Boston College, Northwestern and Arizona State proved that gambling’s influence can reach all the way to the locker room.

Saum concedes that gambling is so prevalent in the university lifestyle that one can find a bookie on every single campus. The NCAA has more than 350,000 student-athletes, almost all of whom might have access to illegal gambling.

KRT Wire | 03/13/2005 | Rise in bets is troubling to NCAA

The article discusses how the NCAA would like to target international sports betting sites that take action on the games. They’d be better off putting some of their television contract money–money generated in large part because of betting-driven interest on games–into treatment programs for college students with gambling problems.

Author: Dave

Director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and author of several books, including Roll the Bones: The History of Gaming. Also Gaming and Hospitality editor for Vegas Seven magazine.

One thought on “NCAA troubled by betting”

  1. "A bookie on every campus" sounds like a promise from a presidential candidate. So who is the bookie at UNLV, and can you tell just by looking at him that he is a bookie?
    Let gambling happen. If it gets too corrupt or if the death toll rises too high, people will become disgusted and decry gambling themselves… in a philosophical way.
    The more quickly we normalize it, the more quickly it will normalize itself. *quote*

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