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Volume 25 No. 28
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Sports Betting Fallout: Could NCAA Championships Return To Nevada?

If more states adopt legalized sports betting, the NCAA would greatly limited in the places it could stage events
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

There is "new hope" that NCAA championship events can come to Las Vegas after the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports betting, according to Mark Anderson of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. UNLV AD Desiree Reed-Francois is "being proactive," having moved quickly following the ruling to "discuss with the Mountain West how to bring such events to Las Vegas." Former UNLV AD Jim Livengood has been working to change the NCAA policy, and though he said that he liked the chances of that happening, he "cautioned there are steps that still need to be taken." If more states adopt legalized sports betting, the current NCAA prohibition would be "difficult to enforce because it would greatly limit the places the organization could stage championship events" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 5/15). In Raleigh, Steve Wiseman notes the NCAA has been "steadfastly against legal and illegal sports betting." The NCAA website has a section "dedicated to sports wagering and it's 'Don't Bet On It' campaign." The NCAA has "refused to hold championship events, most notably NCAA basketball tournament games, in Nevada" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 5/15).

NOTHING BUT NET: THE ATHLETIC's Seth Davis writes the Supreme Court's decision is an "especially important victory for college basketball," as the sport has "monumental challenges garnering the public's attention during the regular season." While every sport could "always use more eyeballs to generate more dollars, college basketball is more in need of a jolt." The NCAA Tournament "remains a strong television property, but like the rest of the marketplace, it has been fighting sagging ratings." The introduction of "widespread legalized gambling will help" (THEATHLETIC.com, 5/15). CBS SPORTS' Matt Norlander wrote NCAA Tournament brackets "beget gambling, which begets interest, which is compounded when more people are casually allowed to log picks on their phones or make bets at a local window" (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/14). However, Big Ten coaches and ADs said that they "couldn't speculate on whether lawful gambling would draw more attention to college basketball during the regular season." Northwestern AD Jim Phillips: "Would it increase eyes of viewership and attendance at games? I don't know if I could make that correlation." Nebraska men's basketball coach Tim Miles: "How can it enhance the interest in our game? I'm not sure" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/15).

PREFER TO STAY OUT OF IT: San Diego State Univ. AD J.D. Wicker said the school would "prefer to be excluded from gambling." However, he said if officials "choose to include amateur athletics, we'd like to leverage some of those dollars to benefit student-athletes, whether it's insurance benefits or expanding medical coverage through more athletic trainers -- those types of things." Wicker: "If it happens, we'll obviously have to step up from a compliance standpoint" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 5/15). In Raleigh, Luke DeCock writes in the longer term, everyone in college and pro sports is "going to have to reckon with legalized gambling." Regulated and taxed, it is a "revenue stream that should long ago have been tapped for the public's benefit instead of driven underground." The mechanics of how to do that, and the "role the NCAA and the pro sports leagues will play, remain undefined" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 5/15).