|Rules & Policies|
|07-09-2005, 06:20 PM||#1|
Join Date: May 2004
Online bets increase at universities
The Duke Chronicle
Duke football did not amass a lowly 2-9 record last season. In fact, at 7-3 the Blue Devils finished in a tie for the eighth-best record in all of Division I-A.
Of course, this respectable mark does not concern wins and losses earned on the field, but rather Duke’s record against the betting spread from a year ago. By playing Florida State, Virginia and Virginia Tech closer than the 30-, 25- and 29-point spreads, respectively, the Blue Devils beat the projected line in all three games, despite losing the trio of contests by a combined 67 points.
Viewing college athletic outcomes by wins against the spread rather than in actual competition has become more common as on-campus gambling and the emergence of online sportsbooks have increased the number of illegal bets’defined as any wager placed online or to bookies outside of Nevada’placed on college football. Sports betting, particularly on college football, has secured its place as a multi-billion dollar industry.
Despite the amateurs competing in the games, college football is no second fiddle when it comes to wagers. Mike Foreman, a spokesman for the popular online sportsbook BetUS.com, said the site receives as much composite action for college football as it does for the NFL. Saturday football is often not just another betting option but rather a preferable one, with allegiance being one of the most attractive draws.
‘If you look at individual customers, they may bet on the same team every week and many of them are alumni,’ Foreman said. ‘There is a lot of that hometown, home-school emotion and a lot of people betting with their hearts on their favorite team.’
The NCAA does not share Foreman’s sentimental view, stating on its website that sports wagering ‘demeans’ the student-athletes involved. Foreman, however, said that he believes it is the NCAA, and not gamblers, who are unfairly profiting from collegiate athletes.
‘These college athletes are only amateurs because they aren’t getting paid. College football is just as big a business as the NFL,’ Foreman said. ‘Instead of going after the people who are taking or placing bets on these games, why don’t they go after the athletic departments or the NCAA, who are really reaping the benefits of this game.’
One of the NCAA’s most pressing concerns regarding gambling’specifically student’s gambling’is the potential to damage the integrity of the game. College sports history is littered with point-shaving scandals, and there is always fear that insider information is being bought and sold. NCAA rules bar student-athletes and athletic department staff from knowingly providing information to ‘individuals involved in organized gambling activities.’ Despite these measures, Foreman is confident the intelligence leaks still occur.
‘We know there are guys out there who are getting inside information,’ Foreman said. ‘Maybe they have a friend who is a team manager or they are at practice. I don’t want to say it is very common, but it’s definitely common, and it happens.’
Frank Fahrenkopf, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association’a lobbying organization for legal commercial casinos’said that since 2001 the NCAA has focused its attention on utilizing legal sportsbooks as a tool to identify potential problems rather than trying to oust them altogether. Several Nevada sportsbooks notified the NCAA and the FBI of strange betting patterns on the March 5, 1994 Washington versus Arizona State basketball game. The subsequent investigation led to the discovery of a point-shaving scandal involving two Arizona State players.
‘Rather than the legal sports books being a problem, we are an assistance to the NCAA’we are the canary in the mine shaft,’ Fahrenkopf said. ‘There is new leadership in the NCAA and they want to re-establish a relationship with the legal sports books.’
Although difficult to estimate, illegal sports gambling in the United States has been valued as high as $380 billion by the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, while legal sports gambling in Nevada hovers just over $2 billion.
BetUS.com, like most online sportsbooks, has avoided the U.S. gambling laws by basing its operations in Canada and in the Caribbean. Although no U.S. citizen has ever been arrested for online gambling, debates over jurisdiction and the legality of online gambling still rage.
The gambling world has been the subject of legislative scrutiny for quite some time. In April 2001, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., pushed for the passing of the Amateur Sports Integrity Act. The bill, which was supported by the NCAA, sought to outlaw the legal gambling on college athletics in Nevada. Proponents claimed the ban would send a message to both legal and illegal bettors. Critics, on the other hand, argued that eliminating the only legal outlet for college betting would dramatically increase the already vast amount of illegal wagers. The bill did not pass, and no other legislative attempts have been made to curb legal betting on college sports.
Instead, the focus has shifted to the internet gambling sites that have thus far circumvented many state-level gambling laws. Later this month, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., is expected to reintroduce a bill that he initiated in 2003 that would bar the use of credit or debit cards to pay for online gambling. Fahrenkopf said the proposed legislation is justified since internet gambling increases the prevalence of sports betting by college students.
For those who are worried about on-campus betting, this really increases that concern, Fahrenkopf said of internet sportsbooks. Every student has a computer in his room, so every student has access to this. These are unlicensed, unregulated operations offshore, and our industry opposes them.’
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