Earlier this year, the NCAA amended its guidelines for student-athletes who committed sports betting violations.
The new punishments dish out softer punishments on loss of eligibility. They will soon become relevant for in-state student-athletes after the expected 2024 launch of online sports betting in North Carolina.
The NCAA stands firmly against sports betting, saying that it undermines the integrity of games and jeopardizes student athletes’ well-being and college sports while “demeaning competition and competitors alike.” This means student-athletes cannot bet on sports, even if they live in a legal sports betting state.
Along with that stance, the NCAA formerly had a zero-tolerance policy for student-athletes who bet on sports. Anyone caught betting lost an entire season of eligibility, regardless of how many bets they placed or how much money they wagered.
Now, its punishments are less severe except for the most extreme cases, such as influencing a game for sports betting purposes. Student-athletes who commit these offenses lose all remaining eligibility permanently.
Changes to NCAA student-athlete sports betting punishments
The NCAA’s new rules consider several factors when determining punishments for student-athletes who commit sports betting violations. This is based mainly on money wagered when committing the offense(s).
- $200 or less: Must undergo sports wagering rules and prevention education; no loss of eligibility.
- $201-$500: Loss of 10% of a season’s eligibility, plus rules and prevention education
- $501-$800: Loss of 20% of a season’s eligibility, plus rules and prevention education
- $801 and above: Loss of 30% of a season’s eligibility, plus rules and prevention education
- Wagering on one’s own sport at another school results in losing 50% of a season’s eligibility
Eilers & Krejcik Gaming consulting and market research illustrated the NCAA’s former and new sports betting punishments for student-athletes.
A more practical solution
Sports betting’s boom over the last few years has resulted in millions of new Americans having the ability to wager on sports from their home states. This number continues to grow, with online sports betting in North Carolina, Florida and Maine soon to launch and additional states hopeful of passing legislature in the next two years.
As a result, an unprecedented number of NCAA student-athletes aged 21 and older now find themselves in jurisdictions where it is legal to bet on sports even if they cannot do so under NCAA rules.
Regarding its former punishments, the NCAA has learned the age-old lesson that prohibition doesn’t work.
The new rules show a shift from prohibition toward focusing on education as the primary factor in preventing future offenses. It puts the ball in student-athletes’ courts and empowers them to make the right decision.
How can North Carolina prevent student-athletes from betting on sports?
With a later start to legalizing online sports betting in North Carolina, lawmakers gained an advantage in their ability to construct regulations that prioritize responsible gambling (RG). In addition to determining operators’ RG obligations to their customers, the state can also dictate more resources, such as tax money, go toward preventative programs and actions.
September’s North Carolina Lottery Commission meeting announced that four North Carolina universities will offer responsible gambling training from the NCAA and EPIC Risk Management. Other state-led RG efforts include:
– Funding a gambling research and policy initiative at East Carolina University.
– Using an NCPG (National Council on Problem Gambling) Agility Grant to implement the state’s Stacked Deck program in Charlotte-Mecklenberg Schools. The program will teach more than 15,000 7th graders about North Carolina responsible gambling.
– Running a media campaign at college stadiums targeting high-risk populations for gambling problems.
With North Carolina online sports betting regulations still unfinalized, lawmakers can look to the NCAA for additional guidance.
True to its stance, the NCAA has collaborated with state governments to provide comprehensive gambling education and increase measures to prevent the harassment of student-athletes. It has also provided guidelines to maintain the integrity of sporting events, a key component in responsible gambling.
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