The NCAA’s preparation for its first basketball championship since the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down PASPA is in full swing. As the scope of legal gambling is expanding in the country, the governing body of college sports is still opposed to gambling on its events. However, there is nothing much it can do to stop people from betting. The NCAA isn’t thrilled with the possibility but isn’t denying the reality.
The collegiate sports body has always been opposed to making sports wagers legal in its championships. Last year, when the Supreme Court opened the sports betting options to states other than Nevada, the market changed quickly and considerably. This weekend along, three women’s tournament games will be played in Mississippi. Next week, the men’s Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games will be played in Washington at Capital One Arena. While people have already started betting on these games, the chances of a full-service onsite sportsbook becoming functional by this time next year are very high.
Future games of the NCAA Tournament are scheduled in cities that are already warming up to sports betting like Philadelphia, Pittsburg, and Providence and Rhode Island. All the cities have casinos nearby with a sportsbook. In fact, two-thirds of the predetermined sites for men’s tournament games this year and next year are scheduled in states that are considering bills to legalize sports wagers.
The college sports governing body hasn’t come to terms with the changing times yet. It could seek a ban on all gambling ads during its events and may even ask for an onsite sportsbook to be closed temporarily. However, they will not be moving their prescheduled event arenas elsewhere. The body recognizes that doing so could be futile since there will be a lesser number of gambling-free zones in the country from this point onward.
NCAA senior vice president for championships, Joni Comstock said that they are anticipating about 30 states to allow sports wagering by 2020 or 2021. The body understands that it is going to work in the environment that it has been given. The board of governors will decide what to do about gambling in its next few meetings. However, currently, it is seeking guidance from conferences that hold their events close to gambling venues. West Coast Conference and Pac-12 both held their men’s and women’s tournaments in Las Vegas this year, which could be a useful experience to share with the NCAA.
Legal sports betting is quickly spreading its wings in the country and five states- West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Nevada, and Mississippi, allow unrestricted betting on college sports. Delaware and Rhode Island, on the other hand, don’t allow bets on in-state collegiate teams. New Jersey is equally conservative in this regard but has a provision that allows betting on multi-site collegiate tournaments if some games are played outside the state. Massachusetts could soon have more liberal gambling laws.