For any sports fan in the United States there has been a palpable shift in the way sports betting is viewed by both professional sports leagues and the NCAA. For decades, these organizations made it a top priority to stay at arm’s length, and sometimes much further, from any association with gambling, especially sports betting. Now that online and in-person sports betting is legal in more than 30 states, these leagues cannot miss out on the cash grab that sports betting partnerships bring.
In many ways, it is no surprise that professional leagues like the NHL and NFL were quick to adopt legal sports betting. After all, these are businesses whose main goal is to make money year in and year out. What surprised most people was how willing the NCAA was to play ball, but in the age of NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) it was only a matter of time. Now, the NCAA’s president is bringing to light what he labels one of his top concerns as it relates to the NCAA and sports betting; the prop bet. The fear here is that prop betting will negatively influence the game overall, with players either getting too wrapped up in how well bookmakers think they can perform or by pursuing match-fixing schemes that ruin the integrity of sports as a whole.
NCAA’s Charlie Baker Takes Issue with Prop Betting
Having took over the role of President of the NCAA earlier in 2023, former Massachusetts governor Charlier Baker has not been shy about his feelings regarding sports betting being as prominent as it is. Baker takes issue with betting on college sports in any capacity, but has recently voiced his concern over prop bets. Prop, or proposition, bets are a type of bet that allows bettors to wager on the performance of a specific individual. In college basketball, this may look like an over/under wager relating to how many points a college basketball player will, or will not, score.
In an interview with CBS, Baker talked at length about how sports betting has almost immediately altered the landscape of college athletics. Though Charlie Baker was still governor of Massachusetts and not with the NCAA five years ago, the NCAA did put up a fight against allowing sports betting through the door. Even as governor, Baker permitted sports betting to be legal but did not allow for betting on college sports in any capacity.
Worries About the Impact on Young Athletes
Charlie Baker and others are concerned about prop bets because of the “pressure created when college student see friends and classmates risking large amounts of money on their performance.” Baker might know a thing or two about this considering he played collegiate basketball at Harvard.
The reason for Baker keying in on prop bets is also because these types of bets are more susceptible to rigging. If a player knows his friend bet thousands on him to score under 25 points in a basketball game, it is not difficult to see how he might be able to help his friend out. This is just one of countless hypotheticals as it relates to prop bets and NCAA sports. Once you add in the fact that on any given night there are dozens of college basketball and football games going on, it is easy to see why players might think they can fix the outcome of prop bets without anyone being any wiser.
Charlie Baker’s aim is to ask states where NCAA prop betting is currently legal to pass legislation banning it. He has not divulged much in the way of how he plans on accomplishing this goal, but it is something he has been set on from his first day as NCAA President.