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NCAA urges new laws to protect student-athletes from gambling harm

| By Robert Fletcher
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has called on US states to update existing laws and regulations to offer greater protection to student-athletes from gambling harm and to preserve the integrity of its competitions.
Mississippi November

Some 38 states have passed different laws legalising sports betting since PASPA was repealed in 2018. The NCAA says while some contain protection and integrity provisions to protect its players, others do not.

As such, the NCAA is advocating for improved laws and has developed new model legislative provisions it recommends states pass. The NCAA will work with lawmakers in states seeking to legalise wagering to ensure provisions feature in legislation.

These provisions, it says, are designed to protect NCAA players, coaches, officials and college personnel from harassment and problem gambling, as well as strengthen integrity protections.

The NCAA says its recommended provisions are currently in place in at least one state but not all. This, it suggests, creates an uneven playing field and leaves its student-athletes vulnerable.

“The NCAA is making changes to help student-athletes make smart choices with sports betting,” NCAA president Charlie Baker said. “But given the explosive growth of this new industry, we are eager to partner with lawmakers, regulators and industry leaders to protect student-athletes from harassment and threats.

“Some states have great policies on the books to protect student-athletes from harassment and coercion and to protect the integrity of the games, but as more states pass or amend laws, more needs to be done.”

What gambling harm protection is the NCAA hoping for?

Among the proposals put forward is a mandatory reporting hotline. This would allow gambling authorities to report harassment or coercive behaviour to law enforcement. It is also calling for increased penalties for bettors who harass student-athletes and mandatory education for operators to identify harassment.

The NCAA also wants regulations to identify prohibited bettors and stop individuals younger than 21 from wagering on sports. In terms of betting advertising, ads should include information about the hotline, problem gambling and prohibitions on harassment.

In addition, the NCAA wants a portion of revenue from sports wagering to be allocated to gambling harm education.

“We are in a time where student-athlete health and well-being is the main priority,” Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee vice-chair, Morgyn Wynne, said. “With the legalisation of sports betting, it is imperative that we take a proactive approach to protecting student-athletes from the potential of negative engagement with bettors.

“Some 38 states have clearly passed 38 different laws. But one thing that needs to be consistent across all is prioritising the student-athlete experience and preventing harmful activity that jeopardises the integrity of sports.”

Student reinstatement guidelines could be adjusted

In related news, the Division I Council is to re-examine guidelines for reinstating student-athletes that engage in sports betting.

Current reinstatement guidelines were reviewed by the council and Division I Student-Athlete Reinstatement and Legislative Committee following recent modifications. This was requested following recent reinstatement cases to ensure NCAA members consider penalties that reflect the current wagering environment.

The committees will consider the penalties for student-athletes who participate in sports wagering, but not on their own teams. The council said significant penalties will remain for those players who bet on their own team.

Draft guidelines include eliminating penalties for players on their first offence but ensure they undertake education on sports wagering rules. Student-athletes would also avoid a penalty on their second offence, depending on the value of the bet.

However, on the third occasion, a player could be banned from competing for one full NCAA season.

It is hoped the review and finalised recommendations will be filed by mid-October. A final Council Coordination Committee vote is due by the end of the month.

“We continue to put student-athlete well-being front and centre in the association’s efforts around sports wagering,” Baker said

“This is an important step toward modernising the NCAA’s approach to sports wagering. Included in that updated approach is our plan to advocate through state and federal legislators to reduce harassment of young people from bettors and to increase education efforts to help prevent problem gambling in the student population.”

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