The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has called on lawmakers and regulators in the US to update existing sports betting laws and regulations to protect student-athletes and ensure the integrity of college games.
The NCAA said it will begin advocating for updated sports betting laws in state legislatures to protect student-athletes from harassment or coercion, address the negative impacts of problem gambling, and protect the integrity of NCAA competition.
In the past five years, 38 states have passed 38 different laws legalizing sports betting, and while some contain robust protection and integrity provisions, many do not.
The NCAA surveyed student-athletes, engaged with key stakeholders and reviewed laws and regulations from across the country to identify model legislative provisions that it would recommend states pass. The provisions are intended to protect student-athletes, coaches, game officials and college sports personnel from harassment and problem gambling and to bolster integrity protections.
“The NCAA is making changes to help student-athletes make smart choices when it comes to sports betting, but given the explosive growth of this new industry, we are eager to partner with lawmakers, regulators and industry leaders to protect student-athletes from harassment and threats. Some states have great policies on the books to protect student-athletes from harassment and coercion and to protect the integrity of the games, but as more states pass or amend laws, more needs to be done,” NCAA President Charlie Baker said.
With several states still considering legalizing sports betting, the NCAA plans to work with lawmakers to include the provisions in pending legislation. All the provisions the NCAA is advocating for are currently in place in at least one state but not all, creating an uneven playing field and leaving student-athletes vulnerable.
To protect student-athletes from harassment or coercive behavior, the NCAA is advocating for mandatory reporting hotlines for gambling authorities to report such behavior to law enforcement, increased penalties for bettors who harass student-athletes and mandatory education for operators to help identify harassment.
Additionally, to protect the integrity of competition, states should have regulations identifying prohibited bettors and prohibit individuals younger than 21 from wagering on sports. Any sports wagering advertisement also should include information about the harassment hotline, problem gambling and prohibitions on harassment related to sports wagering. The revenue generated from sports betting should be allocated in part toward education to support the higher-risk college student population, including student-athletes.
“We are in a time where student-athlete health and well-being is the main priority. With the legalization of sports betting, it is imperative that we take a proactive approach to protecting student-athletes from the potential of negative engagement with bettors. Thirty-eight states have clearly passed 38 different laws, but one thing that needs to be consistent across all is prioritizing the student-athlete experience and preventing harmful activity that jeopardizes the integrity of sports,” said Morgyn Wynne, vice chair of the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
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