NCAA has opposed both legal and illegal wagering in the past, of any kind
Legal Sports Report

NCAA Does A 180 On Sports Betting, Says It Now Supports Federal Regulation

NCAA betting

This is a developing story and will be updated.

The NCAA, long an opponent of all types of sports betting — legal and illegal — appears to have changed its mind.

The collegiate sports organization released a statement on Thursday saying that it supports federal oversight of wagering. The NCAA, of course, just lost the US Supreme Court sports betting case on Monday in which the federal ban on single-game wagers was struck down.

Here is some of the release:

To ensure integrity in sport, the NCAA supports a federal model addressing legalized gambling and has suspended its championship host policy related to sports wagering.

“Our highest priorities in any conversation about sports wagering are maintaining the integrity of competition and student-athlete well-being,” said Mark Emmert, NCAA president. “Sports wagering can adversely impact student-athletes and undermine the games they play. We are committed to ensuring that laws and regulations promote a safe and fair environment for the nearly half a million students who play college athletics.”

Emmert added, “While we recognize the critical role of state governments, strong federal standards are necessary to safeguard the integrity of college sports and the athletes who play these games at all levels.”

Congress could step in with a national policy

That federal policy would have to come from Congress. This week, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said he would be introducing legislation to oversee sports betting in the US. Several of the pro sports leagues — including the NFL and NBA — also have said they support federal regulation.

Hatch co-authored PASPA, the 1992 federal law that banned full sports betting outside Nevada. Utah opposes sports betting at the state level.

The opinion published Monday by Justice Samuel Alito left open the possibility of Congress implementing a new framework. Absent that, Alito wrote, the decision should be left to the states.

Gaming representatives want the momentum already in place at the state level to continue. (You can see here what each state is doing.) Geoff Freeman of the American Gaming Association said earlier this week “that ship has sailed” regarding federal legislation.

“America long ago decided that gaming would be regulated on a state by state basis,” Freeman said. “I find the likelihood of federal involvement here to be very, very slim.”

Exactly what “temporarily” means remains to be seen

The NCAA is also “temporarily”  lifting its ban on championship events in jurisdictions with legal wagering, which previously included a prohibition on such events in Nevada and New Jersey.

The board’s decision will ensure championship location continuity by temporarily allowing NCAA championship events to occur in states that offer sports wagering.

Problems with this policy sat just beyond the horizon for the NCAA. For example, Hartford, Conn., will host first-round games in March Madness next year. Connecticut passed legislation in 2017 allowing sports betting in the state, although efforts to set regulations fell short this year.

Nevada long suffered from the ban. The state is unable to host NCAA national events despite the organization allowing four conferences to hold basketball championships in Las Vegas. The NCAA allowed Las Vegas to bid on championship events in its last cycle, but approved none.

It appears the soonest Las Vegas or Reno could host an event is 2023, based on the NCAA’s four-year bid cycles. The Final Four is scheduled through 2022 and the CFP title game is set through 2024.

You can see the full statement here.

Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.