Controversial Collegiate Prop Bets Are In NC To Stay, Lawyer Says

While the NCAA and state regulators move to ban collegiate prop bets, North Carolina will allow them when online sports betting launches in under two weeks.

C.J. Fisher, co-chair of the Gaming Department at the Fox Rothschild Law Firm, doesn’t see this changing any time soon either.

NCSharp spoke with the New Jersey-based gaming lawyer and adjunct law professor to discuss North Carolina online sports betting regulations and the larger market outlook.

The debate around collegiate prop bets

NCAA President Charlie Baker has said that collegiate prop betting is the element of online sports betting that “worries me most.”

He’s aggressively campaigned against them, and, most recently, successfully appealed to Ohio to overturn its law allowing collegiate prop betting.

Fisher explains the controversy around collegiate prop bets in terms of player compensation.

“College athletes are not compensated,” Fisher told NCSharp, “and prop bets give a player an opportunity to influence a bet, which they could leverage through a bribe. The lack of compensation for most college players means the risk of manipulation is higher than at the professional level.”

NCSharp has delved deeply into match-fixing and bribery at the collegiate level. The question of athlete compensation comes up again and again. Especially with players who have little chance of going pro and in those wagerable sports that receive less media attention, the probability of match-fixing and bribery could go up.

While Fisher points to the potential for athletes to influence prop bets, he is “not sure if the risk is justified.”

This is the type of question that the NC Lottery Commission, regulator of the sports betting industry, will need to monitor closely as online sports betting takes off in North Carolina.

Will NC change its position on collegiate prop betting?

With such a strong college sports presence, North Carolina will likely be scrutinized for allowing wagering on college props and betting on in-state college teams.

A launch in time for March Madness further applies the microscope to collegiate betting in the Tar Heel State and beyond. But could it lead the state to change its position on collegiate prop betting?

Fisher thinks not, at least for the time being.

“The process of changing the sports betting law could take significant time to propose and pass regulations,” he said.

He explains that the timeframe would largely depend on how the state made the change: through a statutory or regulatory change.

“A statute is harder to change,” Fisher explains, as it requires the general assembly to amend a state law or create a new one.

And a change to the sports betting law will not likely happen this year. The legislative session is significantly shortened due to primary elections in the spring. Gambling legislation, which can be divisive, will likely remain off the table. That means it probably wouldn’t be until spring 2025 that the state would, in theory, take up a statutory repeal of collegiate prop betting in North Carolina.

Fisher said “a regulatory change,” which would only require the NCLC to amend its regulations, “has a much lower bar” and could happen throughout the year at an NCLC meeting.

Despite the higher likelihood that the NCLC could adjust its regulations, Fisher thinks “it’s not something that would happen in the short term if at all.”

How to create a strong and safe college betting market in North Carolina

If North Carolina maintains its allowance for collegiate prop betting, what can be done to ensure the integrity of the games, protect the players and discourage bettors from harassing athletes?

Dr. Michele Malkin, a leading responsible gambling advocate at East Carolina University, has distilled the requirements for strong responsible gambling advocacy into three tracts:

– Fund gambling education for different demographics, including a focus on betting integrity.

– Conserve resources for people suffering from problem gambling.

– Devote money and time to research on problem gambling habits.

Efforts to closely monitor college sports can also contribute to the integrity of the games. Dr. Adam Berg, associate professor of kinesiology at UNC Greensboro, would like to see sports data tracking technology employed extensively across all wagerable collegiate sports to identify aberrative behavior in games.

It also should be noted that simply because collegiate prop betting is legal doesn’t mean that sportsbooks won’t limit how much can be wagered on college player props.

Dustin Gouker, sports betting analyst at The Closing Line, has argued, “A better policy decision would be to have standard low limits for how much bettors can wager on college player props.”

NC bettors will likely dive head first into both ACC Tournament and March Madness betting as soon as the market opens.

NCSharp will be following the collegiate betting market closely.

Need someone to talk to about problem gambling?

More Than A Game is a gambling assistance program that gives North Carolinians several easy ways to get in touch and receive support. Run by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, More Than A Game can be reached in the following three ways:

– Phone: 877-718-5543

– Text: Send phrase morethanagamenc to 53342

– Live chat: Via morthanagame.nc.gov

 

Image Credit: Chuck Burton / AP Images

About the Author

Tyler Andrews

Tyler is the Managing Editor for NCSharp.com, covering sports, sports law, and gambling for the Tar Heel State. He has also covered similar topics for PlayTexas, PlayGeorgia, PlayCA, PlayFlorida, PlayOhio, and PlayMA. Tyler’s current focus is North Carolina’s pathway to gaming legalization.