The NCAA is apparently is a lot like the NFL in trying to parse its stance on gambling.
Why is that? The NCAA painted itself into a corner.
The NCAA, sports betting, and DFS
It takes those rules so seriously that it has blackballed New Jersey from holding pretty much any NCAA championship events. That includes March Madness, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
It stems from the ongoing New Jersey sports betting case, and the state’s desire to legalize wagering.
According to the Washington Post:
Asked for comment, an NCAA spokeswoman merely said that the organization does not allow NCAA-run events to be held in states with legalized sports gambling (which, again, New Jersey doesn’t yet have).
And here’s an earlier statement on the matter, from Vocativ:
“The current NCAA championships policy does not allow NCAA championships to be held in states with single-game sports wagering. New Jersey state law presently does not allow legalized sports wagering.”
Here’s the problem for the NCAA: DFS laws
Do you know what else the NCAA thinks is “legalized sports gambling?” Fantasy sports.
Here’s the NCAA bylaw (emphasis added):
Sports wagering includes placing, accepting or soliciting a wager (on a staff member’s or student-athlete’s own behalf or on the behalf of others) of any type with any individual or organization on any intercollegiate, amateur or professional team or contest. Examples of sports wagering include, but are not limited to, the use of a bookmaker or parlay card; Internet sports wagering; auctions in which bids are placed on teams, individuals or contests; and pools or fantasy leagues in which an entry fee is required and there is an opportunity to win a prize.
The NCAA, however, has taken no steps like it has in New Jersey in the 11 states that have legalized DFS.
Why not? That’s not at all clear, other than it’s logistically impossible for it to blackball more than 20 percent of the states.
Can the NCAA parse DFS vs. sports betting?
Even if the NCAA attempts to parse its stance on sports betting versus DFS, it has problems:
- Let’s say we buy the “single-game sports wagering” statement given to Vocativ. Then why does the NCAA still not allow Sports Action in Oregon? That was a form of parlay betting that the NCAA pushed out of the state in exchange for allowing the NCAA tournament to be played in Portland.
- Another possible argument: The NCAA could say that most DFS laws ban college contests. Again, that logic would have a problem because of its stance in Oregon. Sports Action never allowed parlay bets on college games.
The NCAA did not return a request from Legal Sports Report for comment on its position on DFS laws.
NCAA is hypocritical on gambling
The NCAA is treating New Jersey and Oregon one way, and states legalizing DFS another. But the NCAA being uneven on gambling matters this shouldn’t surprise us at all.
The NCAA claims that it is vehemently against sports betting — at least publicly. But it unquestionably knows that sports betting — from straight game bets, to bowl pick’em contests, to NCAA tourney pools — drives interest in its product.
The NFL leads the way in hypocrisy on gambling matters. But the NCAA isn’t far behind.