Several Michigan colleges and universities have participated in an NCAA-sponsored gambling research study.
The survey focused on sports betting and its impact on student-athletes. More than 500 colleges took part in what was the first such extensive survey of schools since the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that cleared the way for many states to legalize sports betting.
Sports betting in Michigan was legalized in 2019.
Michigan sports betting went online for consumers early in 2020. The state has recorded more than $11 billion in total handle in just over four years, with more than $51 million in tax revenue going to Lansing.
The survey took place only a few months after the NCAA announced new penalties and sanction policies in regards to gambling by athletes and other personnel associated with college programs. New guidelines give the NCAA the power to slap an athlete with “permanent loss of collegiate eligibility in all sports” if they bet on college or even pro athletics.
Colleges want sports gambling education for athletes
A theme that emerges from the survey performed by NCCA Research is that colleges want resources to educate their athletes about how to be compliant. They also want athletes to avoid the pitfalls of gambling.
Of the school administrative staff surveyed, 65% said “yes” to the question:
“Should NCAA student-athletes be required to complete an educational module on sports wagering / gambling at least once during their college career?”
The NCAA strengthened penalties for gambling infractions earlier this year.
So far, there has not been a headline-grabbing incident of gambling by a collegiate athlete. However, an Iowa football player was suspended for making wagers on a Iowa/Michigan football game last season.
There have been other isolated incidents, some involving coaches as well as players. In most cases, betting on other sports (a sporting event the individual is not directly involved in) is an infraction with the NCAA. And, a few of those types of infractions have been uncovered in recent years.
Schools worried athletes and coaches could be targets of disgruntled bettors
Other questions in the survey included:
“During the past year, did you become aware of any student-athletes on your campus who were harassed (online or in person) by someone with gambling interests?”
and “Has your athletics department dealt with a sports wagering and/or problem gambling issue within the past year?”
Colleges have become concerned that athletes or coaches could be the target of disgruntled bettors. Earlier this year, a bettor unhappy after he lost a wager made veiled threats toward a member of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors on social media.
It’s promising that the NCAA research shows that 85% of DI, 50% of DII and 32% of DIII schools that discuss the topic of sports betting with their student-athletes do it more than once/year. But the 15% that do not should be.
Compliance departments are tasked with many issues, and for gambling it includes talking to student/athletes about:
- Sports wagering terminology
- NCAA rules
- Well-being (e.g., gambling addiction)
- State and federal laws
- Inside information policies
- Dealing with gambler harassment
The NCAA says 97% of schools surveyed say they are delivering gambling education “in-person by athletics staff.”
U of M added compliance specialist for gambling, offers resources.
At University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, a gambling education program is a requirement for all incoming freshmen.
Troubling, however, is the fact that 66% of respondents admitted that their sports department does not use a sports wagering integrity service to monitor athletic events. Such oversight can help colleges detect abnormalities in competition and outcomes in games at the collegiate level.
Prior to the 2020 fall academic year, the University of Michigan Athletics Department bolstered its compliance office. It added a position for a focused staff member responsible for administering gambling education.
According to the U of M website, the Athletics Compliance Office “monitors all aspects of the university’s athletics programs. This is toensure compliance, identify and report to the NCAA all instances in which compliance has not been achieved. It is also to affirm that corrective actions have been taken.”