Charlie Baker, the former Governor of Massachusetts, recently took on the position of President of the NCAA and has wasted no time making significant changes within the industry. He has expressed concerns about the impact of the legal gambling industry on college athletes and the overall integrity of amateur sports. In particular, he is troubled by “prop bets,” a form of betting that is difficult to monitor and regulate.
These proposition bets allow gamblers to wager on individual players and are currently legal in eight states, including Kansas, Nevada, and Ohio. These bets pose a significant risk to college sports competitions and Baker has voiced his concerns to CBS News. The NCAA has historically been against the legalization of sports betting in the state, and Baker himself supported legalizing some sports betting practices while in office, but not for college athletics.
The legal sports gaming industry has brought in substantial revenue for states, with gamblers placing bets worth $93 billion in 2022 and over $15 billion being spent during the NCAA March Madness tournament in 2023. The main concern for Baker is the pressure placed on college players due to the significant amount of money being wagered on them, particularly with prop bets that are deeply personalized and can greatly impact the player.
Additionally, there is a concern about the sharing of sensitive game information with gamblers, creating the possibility of someone on campus attempting to compromise a player. Baker emphasized the need for states to assist the NCAA in banning prop bets on college games. The NCAA is already working with gaming companies to compile a list of prohibited bettors known to harass players or coaches, with legislation required to prevent players from needing police protection during events, as was necessary last spring.
In addressing the issue, Baker highlighted the importance of educating student-athletes and schools on the repercussions of engaging in betting activity and ensuring that any such activity is swiftly discovered. Ultimately, his aim is to protect the integrity of college athletics and ensure the well-being of the student-athletes involved.