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NCAA relaxes sports betting stance

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has opened up to allow US states that legalise sports gambling to host its championship events, but has maintained it will continue to restrict sponsorship and advertising from companies involved in the sector in the wake of this week’s landmark court ruling.

The NCAA has spoken out after the US Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favour of New Jersey in its bid to overturn the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) and allow states outside of Nevada to legalise sports betting.

Nevada had held a monopoly on the sports wagering market in the country, with PASPA blocking other states from offering a regulated service. The NCAA had been openly critical of proposals to expand sports betting in the US due to concerns over its impact on the integrity of college sports.

However, the NCAA has now said it supports a federal model addressing legalised gambling and has suspended its championship host policy related to sports wagering. The NCAA’s decision will ensure championship location continuity by temporarily allowing NCAA championship events to occur in states that offer sports wagering. This will allow NCAA events that have already been assigned to continue should states succeed in introducing sports betting services.

The suspended policy prohibited any NCAA championship competition from occurring in any state that allowed single-game sports wagering. The NCAA said it may consider more permanent revisions of the championship host policy regarding sports wagering during future meetings and officials in Nevada, where official NCAA events were previously unable to visit, have already stated their intentions.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois said, according to the Associated Press news agency: “On Monday we contacted the Mountain West Conference, our NCAA colleagues, we also spoke with our local and regional leaders. It's our intent to present competitive bids for national events, and we want to be aggressive in that space. We know that Las Vegas as a community, we have a proven track record of success in hosting large scale events.”

The NCAA added that policy restricting sports gambling sponsorships and advertising will remain in place for NCAA championships and Football Bowl Subdivision postseason bowls. NCAA president Mark Emmert (pictured) has previously stated he hoped exemptions would be made for college sport if sports gambling is widely legalised.

Emmert said in a statement: “Our highest priorities in any conversation about sports wagering are maintaining the integrity of competition and student-athlete well-being. Sports wagering can adversely impact student-athletes and undermine the games they play. 

“We are committed to ensuring that laws and regulations promote a safe and fair environment for the nearly half a million students who play college athletics. While we recognise the critical role of state governments, strong federal standards are necessary to safeguard the integrity of college sports and the athletes who play these games at all levels.”