The President of the NCAA, Charlie Baker, has expressed his deep concerns about the impact of legal gambling on college athletes and the integrity of amateur sports. In particular, he has highlighted his acute concerns about “prop bets,” which allow gamblers to place a wager on an individual play linked to a specific player. Baker believes that proposition bets present a special risk that should not be allowed in college sports.
During an interview with CBS News, Baker discussed the tectonic impact that legalized gambling is having on college athletics. He revealed that the NCAA was one of the chief opponents when sports betting became legal five years ago. Despite having supported the legalization of some sports wagers as the former governor of Massachusetts, he opposed allowing betting on college athletics.
The rapid growth of sports gaming has turned it into a financial behemoth, with a staggering $93 billion wagered on sports in 2022. NCAA March Madness alone saw more than $15 billion in wagers this year.
As a former center for Harvard University’s basketball team, Baker expressed his worries about the pressure created when college students see friends and classmates risking large amounts of money on their performance. In particular, he is concerned about prop bets, which have no connection to the overall outcome of the game and can easily fly under the radar. Baker also worries about the potential for student athletes to be coaxed into unintentionally sharing insider information.
Baker’s wish is for states to work with the NCAA to pass legislation banning prop bets on collegiate sporting events and for student-athletes. He also mentioned that the NCAA has been communicating with gaming firms to seek support for legislation that would create a “prohibited bettors list” of those who have a history of harassing coaches or players.
Amidst all the pressure and money surrounding college sports, Baker and his team are focused on educating student-athletes and schools to stay out of trouble and ensure that any illicit activities are discovered quickly. He emphasized the importance of preventing potential scandals in the future.