Big Debate: Is the NCAA right to call for a ban on prop betting in college sports?

Estimated read time 4 min read

Gil Fried, professor of University of West Florida and Dustin Gouker, owner at Closing Line Consulting, answer this month’s burning question
The post Big Debate: Is the NCAA right to call for a ban on prop betting in college sports? first appeared on EGR Intel.  

YES
Gil Fried, professor, University of West Florida

Prop bets might be fun and exciting but they can also lead to possible problems for players. For those with gambling addictions, the ability to place more frequent bets within a game gives them more opportunity to possibly lose money.  

The National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) has a different concern with prop bets, and that is with the student-athletes. More specifically, they are concerned with the integrity of the game. If fans think the games are rigged, then they might not watch them as much. This could harm the value of their broadcasting agreements, especially for the NCAA’s March Madness, which is their biggest moneymaker. 

A secondary concern, but raised as the primary concern, is for student-athletes. The NCAA’s worry is that players might intentionally not perform as well in order to generate a financial return, pay off debts or other nefarious purposes.

Some athletes might feel that it really isn’t cheating if they score only 15 points per game rather than their regular 20 points. They might think no one would know the difference and that anyone can have a ‘bad day’. This was seen with former Toronto Raptors player Jontay Porter, who was banned for life from the NBA after a league probe found he disclosed confidential information to sports bettors and wagered on games.

How easy would it be for a player not to shoot as well in an insignificant game? His or her team could still win, but they just had an ‘off game’. That is what organised criminals and others could convince a given player to do and persuade them not to play up to par.

That is why the NCAA wants to ban prop bets, and it has so far convinced Ohio, Maryland, Vermont and Louisiana to prohibit collegiate prop bets. I think this trend will continue and more states will follow. A ban on prop bets could be another weapon in the arsenal to bring possible calm to the chaos surrounding sports betting.

NO
Dustin Gouker, owner, Closing Line Consulting

The NCAA has long tried to distance itself from sports betting, so the idea it wants states to ban proposition bets involving college players should not come as a shock.         

The proposed ban aims to achieve two major policy points: protect the integrity of college league games and curtail harassment of collegiate student-athletes by bettors. In a vacuum, these are admirable policy goals. No one wants fixed outcomes in college sports and no one wants athletes to be threatened because of someone’s bet. Unfortunately, the NCAA’s call for a ban may only incrementally help address either goal while simultaneously encouraging prop bets elsewhere.

Let’s say the NCAA successfully gets props banned in every state for regulated US sportsbooks. Bettors will still have no shortage of options: offshore sportsbooks take prop bets on college players in much of the US. A ban would have no impact on sites like BetOnline, Bovada, BetUS and so on. Sweepstake sportsbooks such as Fliff and Rebet take college prop bets in upwards of 40 states. While the sweepstake segment might be legal, they also aren’t beholden to any regulations in the US.

Fantasy pick’em apps serve 20-plus states (including California and Texas); many of them offer the ability to parlay the performances of two or more college players. Since the category isn’t considered gambling in the states they serve, a ban won’t impact them.

On the harassment side, it’s not clear a prop ban would even move the needle. A myriad of other bets on college sports can lead to harassment. Look no further than a last-second three-pointer by a TCU Horned Frogs player in a 2023 men’s basketball tournament game. The shot didn’t impact the outcome, but did allow TCU to cover the spread. The player who hit the shot faced a lot of harassment as a result.

While a ban might lessen integrity concerns and harassment, it will only be by a matter of degree while also channelling prop bets to grey- or black-market operators.

The post Big Debate: Is the NCAA right to call for a ban on prop betting in college sports? first appeared on EGR Intel.

 

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