NCAA President Charlie Baker Urges Ban On Collegiate Prop Bets, An Unlikely Prospect In NC

Amid March Madness, NCAA president Charlie Baker repeated his plea for states to ban prop bets on college sports. He posted a statement on social media requesting that states remove prop bets from all wagering markets.

His preface to the statement was, “With sports betting on the rise, the NCAA is acting to protect student-athletes from harassment and working to protect the integrity of the game – this week shows why it’s so important to act.” The statement went on to say:

“Sports betting issues are on the rise across the country, with prop bets continuing to threaten the integrity of competition and leading to student-athletes getting harassed. The NCAA has been working with states to deal with these threats, and many are responding by banning college prop bets.

“This week, we will be contacting officials across the country in states that still allow these bets and ask them to join Ohio, Vermont, Maryland and many others and remove college prop bets from all betting markets. The NCAA is drawing the line on sports betting to protect student-athletes and to protect the integrity of the game – issues across the country these last several days show there is more work to be done.”

Over two dozen states offer prop bets on college games

Twenty-seven states offer some type of college prop bets. About half of those states ban prop bets on in-state college teams. North Carolina is among nine states that allow prop bets on collegiate athletics, including in-state programs.

Since online sports betting in North Carolina launched on March 11, the state’s betting handle has exceeded expectations, and sportsbooks are happy about it. The North Carolina Lottery Commission’s early revenue figures show the state is on par with other states that had successful online sports betting launches.

Across the border in Virginia, betting on in-state college teams is prohibited. And in South Carolina, a state with the No. 1 women’s basketball team in the nation at its flagship institution, sports betting is illegal. North Carolina benefits from these bans, as bettors can cross state lines to bet on their favorite intercollegiate programs.

Expert: A ban on prop bets in NC is unlikely

More than 50% of US sports betting market wagers come from in-game bets, a type of prop wager, according to the Sports Betting Alliance. That percentage could increase to 70% by 2030.

Gaming expert C.J. Fisher, the co-chair of the Gaming Department at the Fox Rothschild law firm, doesn’t see North Carolina banning collegiate prop bets in the near future.

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

In the meantime, Baker continues to warn about the dangers of prop bets while the nearly 30 states that offer some form of prop bets on college athletics rake in millions. His efforts also include launching a revamped responsible gambling campaign announced last year. The initiative includes advertising the organization’s online anti-gambling resources via the courtside marquees.

Beyond prop bets, college athletes feel impact of betting culture

After the team’s second-round win over Michigan State, UNC standout Armando Bacot received hundreds of messages on his social media account. Not from fans congratulating him on a solid win. They were from bettors. As Bacot told reporters after the game, “I guess I didn’t hit the over.” He also mentioned people calling him out “because I didn’t get enough rebounds.”

During March Madness, the number of bets placed on players and teams reaches a fever pitch. Parlay betting, same-game parlays, and live betting ramp that intensity up even further. People can see their winnings swell massively before deflating completely when one leg of a long parlay doesn’t hit.

As one of the highest-profile players on one of the top teams in the country, Bacot has gotten used to this. “I get it because you come so close to something and you lose it, but at the same time, you’re gambling. Those books weren’t built on people winning.” But that doesn’t make it any easier.

It also doesn’t seem like banning player props will end this.

The rise of parlay betting puts most bettors in situations where a winning bet slip comes down to a single stat line: a rebound, an assist, a single point. While the bet may not include a player prop, the outcome often depends on an individual player’s performance. Athletes understand this, and it’s nothing new to them.

The issue isn’t that bettors have a new reason to hone in on an individual player’s performance. The issue is that more bettors have more access to players–both physical and virtual. College athletes, who walk across their campuses and rub shoulders with bettors who wager on them, feel this more dramatically than pros. They might be able to tune out some of the social media vitriol, but they still have to go to class, walk the quad, cross through a dorm.

Now that North Carolina has legalized online sports betting and allowed wide-open betting on college sports, how the state cultivates a healthy school climate for NC college athletes will say a lot about the future of college betting in the Tar Heel State.


Image Credit: Cheryl Coward

About the Author

Cheryl Coward

Cheryl Coward started her career as a news reporter in Washington, DC. She's a die-hard women's basketball fan and founded the website as a result of that passion. She loves writing about sports on all levels and has previous experience covering sports betting regulations, operator marketing campaigns and women's sports gambling topics.