The NCAA’s ban on championship events in states with legal sports betting has now gone the way of the 64-team Men’s Basketball Tournament.
After suspending the ban policy in 2018 after the United States Supreme Court ruled on Murphy v. NCAA, the NCAA’s Board of Governors made the policy change permanent last week. The policy had become impractical as more states legalized wagering.
Delaware, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia all take bets, while Washington D.C., Oregon, Arkansas, New York and now Montana are all set to join them.
Iowa, Indiana (where the NCAA is headquartered) and Tennessee have all passed bills and are simply awaiting the signatures of their respective governors to become law. Several more states could also finalize bills this year.
This official policy change doesn’t mean the NCAA is fully embracing legalized sports betting, however.
The NCAA’s Stance on Sports Betting
While the NCAA lifted this ban in order to avoid having an increasingly-limited number of event venues to choose from, it also took the opportunity to reaffirm its position on sports betting overall.
In announcing the ban’s removal, the NCAA’s Board of Governors renewed its call for federal legislation that bans wagering on NCAA-sanctioned events. Like MLB and the NBA in lobbying various state legislatures, the NCAA has cited concerns over the integrity of its competitions.
The NCAA has taken that a step further, however, calling for a ban on its athletes placing wagers on any NCAA-sanctioned sport, not just the sport they are engaged in.
The NCAA hasn’t been as vocal about a ban on other athletic staff, such as athletic trainers, coaches and officials placing wagers, though those individuals can also greatly influence the outcomes of competitions. Perhaps the NCAA assumes that goes without saying, or follows the logic that its call for a federal ban on bets on all of its events would naturally prevent that.
Regardless, the fact that the NCAA has mostly been silent about the people who are most likely to have the resources to place a bet on its games while having influence over them doing so is an intriguing fact.
Not Leaving Las Vegas?
The obvious change that could follow this ban being lifted is that Las Vegas now becomes fair game for hosting championship events. Multiple conferences play their postseason men’s basketball conference tournaments there already, and Las Vegas has a history of submitting bids to host championship events.
The biggest obstacle in the past has been the ban and appropriate facilities. The game has now changed completely.
T-Mobile Arena, the home of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, is a facility that could easily host a myriad of sporting events and the future home of the now-Oakland Raiders could become a site for sports which require such a venue, most notably college football.
The NCAA has avoided pigeon-holing itself by lifting this ban but still has concerns over legalizing sports betting. To what degree any governmental body may act on those concerns remains to be seen but what’s certain is that eventually a championship event will be played in a state where fans can legally bet on the contest.