With all of the controversy of gambling in college sports, why is the issue
still an issue? The answer is money. There were actions taken towards this by
Congress, but the problem is that it was never completely abolished. Congress
had made the mistake of creating a way around it. It is now commonly referred
to as the Las Vegas loophole. They outlawed the betting nationwide with the
exception of one state, one state that is the capital of gambling, Nevada. This
has caused few changes, with the exception of the ever-growing revenue that it
generates. Another reason the legality still remains is one not frequently
mentioned, but the question of the ban being constitutional. But no matter what
the law, is there realistically ever going to be silence or content?
To trace the tracks to the start of mending this problem, we need to go
back to 1992. This is the year that the Professional and Amateur Sports
Protection Act took precedence. This law restricts gambling on amateur sports
in 46 states and essentially leaves Nevada as the only state that can take bets
on those games. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) and Rep. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.)
are striving to get two separate bills passed, both of which are targeted at
prohibiting gambling on amateur sports. The bills were introduced a year ago,
and at the time, were heavily favored. The bills would legally put a stop to
betting on NCAA games, the oh-so-notorious March Madness (the NCAA
Tournament), and wagering on all college sports for that matter. Las Vegas
casino lobbyist have turned offensive. Who wouldnt, if there were possibilities
of losing a $700 million cash cow, with approximately $70 million on March
The money that is generated from sports betting both legal and not, is
much too vast to be eradicated. Nevada is the tree trunk for which sports
gambling is derived. The casinos are complete with giant electronic boards that
offer information on daily events ranging from odds to player injuries. This is the
basis of most sports wagering. Nevada generates $2.3 billion a year on legal
sports betting , where as, betting on college sports revenue in Nevada accounts
for $650 million of the amount. This is far from the issue though. If betting on
college sports in Nevada is made illegal, I find the impact to be very small
considering that illegal sports gambling has been estimated at $80 billion to
$380 billion a year. At the least, 40 times the legal revenue generated seems
very minute. In addition, studies have shown that for every dollar bet on sports
in Vegas, $100 is bet with bookies and on the Internet. Rep. Jim Gibbons
(R-Nev.), says that there is nothing backing up that legal gambling in Nevada is
in any way responsible for the illegal sports wagering that plagues our nations
college campuses. Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), said that no problems would
be solved by eliminating legal bets any more than suggesting that outlawing
aspirin would stop the sale of illegal drugs. A poll done by Gallop from March
18-20 (between the first two weekends of this years NCAA tournament) found
that Americans were divided on issue. The poll stated that 49% believe that
college sports gambling should be illegal and 47% believe that it should not.
Strikingly, college basketball fans are stuck on 48% on both stand-points.
The possibility of abolishing gambling on college sports is not very likely
nor does it hold much hope of bettering the problem. If the betting was banned,
theres no possibility of it just disappearing. The figures and dollar amounts of
illegal gambling are much too high now, and it is still legal. What happens when
Congress puts this law into effect and everyone ignores it? It surely does not
say much about our society and its morals. Howard Shaffer, director of the
Division on Addictions at Harvard Medical School, said If we pass legislation
that we cannot enforce, it will undermine authority in general and young people
dont need any more laws that nobody respects. Shaffer added, If its
unenforceable, they will come to see other legislation as unenforceable and then
well have problems where we dont necessarily have them today. People of all
kinds are in agreeance that the impact of this law would hardly be worth the
effort. John Shelk, vice president of the American Gaming Association, also
stated Its not like Congress is going to pass a law that bans legal gambling,
and students across the country will say, Oh my God, I cant gamble anymore
because its illegal.Sen. McCain, co-author of last years Senate bill,
had countered his opinion to ESPN.com by saying, I dont think we have to
choose between enforcing existing laws on illegal gambling and closing the
loophole on legal gambling. McCain added, we can do both. McCain and
others claim that eliminating legalized gambling in Nevada would be an
essential first step on stopping the college sports gambling. Critics disagree.
They believe that the attempt to chip away at illegal sports gambling isnt a
logical first step, at all.
The fact of the college sports gambling, is that there is too much
publicity, popularity, and money surrounding this particular gambling sport.
In the beginning there was a problem with popularity. From 1951-1974, there
was a 10% excise tax levied by the Federal Government on the amount of sports
wagers. The tax made the business unprofitable since the profit margin was
generally 5% or less before the tax.In 1974, Congress was persuaded by the
Nevada congressional delegation. From this persuasion, Congress ended up
cutting the tax from 10% to 2%.From there, the boom took off. It took a little
time but the pay off was great. Wagers on professional and college sports were
totaling $1.3 billion by 1988. After the new wave had taken off, professional
sports teams and the NCAA became concerned. One outspoken supporter was
Bill Bradley, a former basketball star and Democratic Senator from New Jersey.
Bradley expressed, state-sponsored sports betting could change forever the
relationship between the players and the game, and the game and the fans.
Sports would become the gamblers game and not the fans game, and athletes
would become roulette chips, he pleaded in 1992. Bradley and others
apparently made quite an impact because Congress enacted the Professional
and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which was noted earlier as the Nevada
loop hole. Again, the conflict elevated from there on out.
Realistically though, as much as the NCAA wants this legalization
stopped, there is an issue thats never discussed, but could legally keep the
association from doing anything. It is another loophole that Nevada has found,
and is a little more concrete. It is the 10th amendment, which delegates powers
to the states not to the federal government. This means that if the bill becomes
a law, the state of Nevada will definitely have grounds to contest it.
The popularity of college sports gambling has continued to grow over the
years. When the NCAA tournament begins to roll around each year, Nevada
gets hard at work. March Madness, is virtually a madness. Its a craze that is so
very wide-spread, it would literally be impossible to get rid of it. Brackets and
spreads are created, and almost anybody with vision can say that they have
seen the NCAA tournament bracket. It is so popular now that some media
devote entire sections of newspapers to the event. Its inevitable that readers
are able to find the bracket listed, and usually bold and in full color. You can
even find the bracket displayed at bars, restaurants, and even work places.
More popular is the office pool that seems to have grown so much that women
and even non-sports fans find them selves anteing in at a shot on the pool. If
this legislation is to pass, how are things like the office pools going to be
regulated? Can any one realistically imagine the day that cops and or Federal
agents busting bars and business environments for illegal gambling all over the
country? The idea of the regulation is ridiculous.
In addition to the casual gambling in offices and such, what about the vast
expansion of gambling and sources of it on the Internet? The Internet is full of
sites devoted to college sports and gambling of it.As far as the NCAA goes, it
has what most would consider a hypocritical view on the situation.
The NCAA claims to be firmly against the legal betting, but when it comes
to the Tournament and other advertised events, one might think differently about
the beliefs. In congressional testimony the NCAA says it opposes all forms of
illegal sports wagering. Well, if anyone has heard of a little network called
CBS, they might be able to recall a small tournament, in correlation with the
network, called the NCAA Tournament. These two were in conjunction for this
years tournament, but somehow the NCAA had no problem with CBS
repeatedly pointing viewers to CBS.Sportsline.com, all throughout the broadcast.
Additionally, CBS.Sportsline.com owns Las Vegas Sports Consultants. Some
authorities estimate that over 80% of Las Vegas sports books subscribe to the
line, set by this firm.During the tournament, this web site offered a free
Bracket Pool Manager, in addition to odds, points, spreads, over/unders, and
so on. You cant gamble through the site, but what other purpose does a
Bracket Pool Manager and other such emminities serve besides gambling.
When you link all of these things together, it just doesnt make any sense.
There has to be an approval by the NCAA for all of this to have taken place,
therefore, it is indeed to some extent, condoning this action that it claims to be
so against. So what do you think that the NCAA can do or say? Would it be
feasible for them to say no, you cant say that or broadcast our tournament
anymore? NO! CBS accounts for 90%…yes, 90% of the NCAA operating
revenue. I seriously doubt that the NCAA is so consumed with its beliefs, that
it will just discard the whole money issue that goes along with it.
The National Association of Basketball Coaches, Official Athletic Site
believes that the NCAA has many problems that it needs to address and correct
before jumping the gun to Congress. Marc Isenbergs article on the site stated
that, The NCAA cannot even begin to educate athletes and other students-or
even congress-until it does the following:
1.) demand that CBS cut its ties with CBS.Sportsline.com and Las Vegas Sports
Consultants, which are a major part of the infrastructure of gambling on college
2.) prohibit corporate partners from using bracket promotions or contests
connected to the outcome of games
3.) refuse to credential media outlets who publish lines and accept ads from tout
4.) fund a gambling education program on college campuses that addresses the
problem of gambling, not just shaving.
Can the NCAA tear itself away from its Show me the money outlook to conduct
such a campaign? The answer is No. The truth remains, that nobody
especially not the NCAA wants to go back to the unpopular, no money-making
ways of the past.
There is an undeniable problem with betting in college sports, mainly
when it comes to students.This is the NCAAs major concern, but namely, point
shaving. In general, point shaving is done by players that intentionally miss
shots to change the outcome of the game.The NCAA has a very justifiable
reason for the abolishment in terms of this actual concern.
Over the past view years, there have been many cases in which athletes
got involved in the negative aspects of gambling. This would often times result
in owing bookies so much that they would get sucked into the point shaving
problem. One student made his mark when he got involved with his roommate,
who was also a popular bookie that was being investigated by officials. The
student was Teddy Dupay, a basketball player for the University of Florida
Gators. Dupay had shared winnings with his friend Kresten Lagerman, 23, after
giving him inside information about whether the Gators could cover point
spreads. Florida had also endured a 2000-2001 season filled with injuries.
There were also many instances of injured players returning much sooner than
expected. Following this discovery, Dupay was dismissed from the team.
Another student, a running back at the Northwestern University had become the
schools rushing leader. He had become involved in gambling so in-depth that
he fumbled the football at the goal line to ensure his $400 wager on the point
spread of his own game. These are the instances that are worthy of the
abolishing desire. Still, the fact remains that these examples and 99% of sports
gambling is done illegally or under the table.
The truth of the matter is that, this is another back-and-forth issue (like
abortion) that will never have silence nor contentment. There are serious
problems with players and the ethics of the game, but no matter what, a ban on
sports gambling will never solve one-single problem. The fact remains that 99%
of all sports gambling is done illegally. Since it is currently legal, is there any
truth to solving the problem by abolishing it? College sports gambling is truly not
the real issue. There are too many other factors at play. When it comes to the
players getting involved, I believe that they are able to make their own decisions.
If they have difficulty doing that, there must be somewhat of a different issue-
Ethics. Apparently, the NCAA should concentrate more on its players than
Nevada. With the problem of these players, it doesnt leave much meaning to
the idea may the best man win.
Barlett, Donald L. and James B. Steele, Throwing the Game, Time,
(September 25, 2000)
Gillespie, Mark, Americans Split on Whether Gambling on College Sports
Should Be Banned, The Gallup Organization,
(April 1, 2002)
Isenberg, Marc, Gambling on College Sports: The NCAAs Solution is Part
of the Problem, National Association of Basketball Coaches, Official Athletic
(April 25, 2002)
Jansen, Bart, Big name coaches support ban on amateur sports gambling,
The Detroit News,
(April 25, 2002)
Pells, Eddie, Complaint: Dupay received money for sharing info, Slam!
Rovell, Darren, Congree could trump Vegas on college book, ESPN,
(March 15, 2002)
Sauve, Valerie, Issues Committee holds discussion on illegal sports wagering in
NCAA, The Daily Beacon, (March
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