The Supreme Court’s ruling today to strike down a federal ban on sports wagering is cause for concern for those in college sports.
The ruling deemed unconstitutional the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or PASPA, and will leave sports wagering up to individual states.
“Today the United States Supreme Court issued a clear decision that PASPA is unconstitutional, reversing the lower courts that held otherwise,” NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said in a statement. “While we are still reviewing the decision to understand the overall implications to college sports, we will adjust sports wagering and championship policies to align with the direction from the court.”
The NCAA and its constituents have two main issues related to what it calls student-athlete well-being: student-athletes who may become addicted to gambling, and student-athletes who’s on-field performances may become compromised by gamblers, i.e., point-shaving.
University of Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione told The Franchise via text message Monday morning, “this seems to completely change the game.”
Later Monday, Castiglione added to his comment in an email.
“We have been tracking this issue and have been anticipating a decision,” Castiglione said. “Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, we’re processing the details and trying to gain a clearer understanding of all of the considerations involved. As a department, we have long been dedicated to educating our student-athletes about impermissible activities, including gambling, as well as monitoring what we’re capable of at the institutional level.
“Going forward, I think it’s important for universities and colleges to seek the assistance of our respective states in developing a regulatory approach in order to properly manage our overall responsibility in this new age, as well as uphold the integrity of our competitions.”
At the University of Tulsa, athletic director Derrick Gragg showed a similar apprehension.
“There is obviously a lot more we do not know at this time, including whether the State of Oklahoma will legalize sports gambling in the future,” Gragg said via text. “Our focus is on protecting the game and our concerns center on how this would affect our student-athletes. We will continue to monitor this important situation.”
Oklahoma State AD Mike Holder could not be immediately reached for comment.
Oklahoma legislators removed a bill that was on the books during the previous legislative session. HB 3375 would have applied a 10-percent tax rate on sports wagering revenue. A version of the bill was first introduced in 2017, and it is widely anticipated that another version will be up for discussion when the legislature reconvenes.
It’s also not clear how a new state law would or would not impact tribal casinos in Oklahoma, which may not have to wait on lawmakers to begin implementing a sports wagering construct.
Every four years, the NCAA conducts an anonymous survey of its student athletes. The most recent survey, in 2016, revealed that 55 percent of male student-athletes reported gambling money within the past year (down from 57 percent in 2012 and 66 percent in 2008), and 24 percent of male student-athletes — in violation of NCAA rules — reported having bet on sports within the past year (that figure was only 5 percent for women).
According to the survey, most of the losses were $10 or less, and the vast majority were $50 or less. But four percent reported losses of $500 or more.
Among student-athletes who admitted they bet on sports, 65 percent of men and 44 percent of women bet on the NFL. Second was men’s basketball, which includes bracket contests and pools. NBA and college football were next.
The survey also revealed that most sports betting among student-athletes is between friends, family and teammates. Next, though, is online or mobile app.
Columnist John E. Hoover, previously co-host of “Further Review with Hoover & Rew,” is the Franchise College Football Insider. Catch him on air every day in in Oklahoma City and Tulsa: Monday 12:15 p.m., Tuesday 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, 8:15 a.m., Thursday 10:15 a.m., and Friday 3:30 p.m. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Hoover also covers the Big 12 for Sporting News and Lindy’s magazine and is a feature writer for Sooner Spectator magazine. Visit his personal page at johnehoover.com.