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College sports the eye of gambling money amid security concerns

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SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (AP) – The position of the NCAA against gambling in sports by athletes and those who work in college …

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (AP) – The NCAA’s stance against gambling in sports by athletes and college athletes is summed up simply by the slogan on posters given by the association to member schools: “Don’t bet on it.”

The rules have been unambiguous for decades, are part of the recommendations for half a million amateur athletes. But as sports betting is now legal in more than half of the states, and millions are joining once-terrible professional sports leagues, college conferences are also beginning to explore ways to make money.

The Central American Conference was the first to sell the rights to its data and statistics to a company called Genius Sports, which in turn will sell them to bookmakers.

Expect others to follow them, but the extra income will come with increased responsibility. And at a time of major change in student sports, when athletes can now make money on their fame and on the viability and necessity of the NCAA under consideration, legalized and easily accessible gambling is a newer place to navigate.

Although the NCAA does not interfere with such business deals, actual sports betting remains a violation for those who play sports in college.

“Before, they could turn the other way and say, ‘Oh, it’s all happening here.’ But once you get paid from sports betting, it also comes with some responsibilities, ”said Matthew Holt of US Integrity, which works with professional sports leagues and college conferences to monitor gambling violations.

Holt said the college’s sports college is clearly ripe for potential scandals due to a lack of transparency when it comes to player availability, an explosion of endorsement deals for athletes involving boosters and opportunities for unpaid players are essentially easy to bet on.

Holt said regulated sports betting in the United States is on track to make $ 125 billion in profits this year.

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has brought in $ 20 million in bets this year, Holt said, and more money is being made on average football Saturday in college than on a typical NFL Sunday.

Although all major professional sports leagues have financial agreements with online bookmakers, college conferences are coming into play slowly. MAC Commissioner John Steinbrecher said it was impossible to ignore the changing reality.

“What we’ve done has, in fact, taken sports betting out of the dark corners and put in that sunlight and more transparency. And more eyes on it. It is positive, it is not negative, ”he said.

Next season, these MAC football games on weekdays with Genius may become more appealing to players than ever.

The London-based company also provides a level of protection for its partners, including the NFL, by analyzing data and relationships with bookmakers, said Sean Conroy, vice president of Genius Sports in North America.

At conferences earlier this month in Arizona, Holt warned athletic directors and league leaders in the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 about the differences between college and professional sports that make college more susceptible to corruption.

First, college conferences do not require teams and coaches to disclose injury status and the availability of players for games. The NFL, by contrast, issues injury reports three times a week.

Holt said that by hiding information about injuries, the college coach inadvertently makes those who know – from coaching staff to team managers and players – targets for bribery for advantage in betting.

“So I think the collegial space, if they’re going to open up that category to income and monetization, should take responsibility to take a step forward in injury information and availability reporting,” Holt said.

Second, due to the fact that college athletes are now allowed to make money on agreements, Holt said there should be restrictions on individuals betting on athletes they also pay.

“Let’s say you have a Tommy’s used car shop that gives a defender $ 100,000 a year to university and zero (deal),” Holt said. “Well, the owner of Tommy’s used car shop shouldn’t be able to bet on this university. This is a conflict of interest. He has a direct impact on the player. “

Holt said professional leagues are doing a good job of identifying “people of influence” and imposing their restrictions on bookmakers.

Third, and perhaps most problematic, is the ease with which athletes can bet on themselves. Many online bookmakers allow users to place bets by betting on individual performances in a game. Can a defender throw at least three landing passes? Will the scoring reach six assists?

Instead of paying to influence the end result of the game, as has happened in scandals involving athletes in schools such as Boston College, Toledo and San Diego, athletes can simply manipulate their own statistics.

Even with the growth of NIL opportunities for college athletes, the vast majority earn modest amounts – if any – of money.

“And it’s easier for the fixers to approach these players because they don’t need to ask the player to fix the match,” Holt said. “Hey, we not only hope your team wins, we hope you play great. Just don’t do nine heels. “

Holt said in support of U.S. honesty, three states have declared it illegal for individual players to bet on college sports.

“The other 30 said,‘ Thank you for the great information, Matt, but DraftKings, FanDuel and Caesars, who have great lobbyists, they wanted it, and they win, ”Holt said.

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Follow Ralph D. Rousseau at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com

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