Penn State football – one of the state’s most beloved sporting franchises – says it’s not ready to be a “gambling product.”
And it has a lot to do with the fact that the players, as skilled as they are, are unpaid amateurs.
That’s why Penn State President Eric Barron, in a letter to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board this month, asked that no betting be permitted in Pennsylvania on any games involving in-state colleges for up to two years.
Barron said the schools, daftar poker their conferences and the NCAA will all need that time to orient athletes, coaches and others in their athletic departments to the potential risks and problems associated with sports betting.
A moratorium now – at least for the period that betting in Pennsylvania takes place under expedited, temporary regulations – will give the schools a better chance to enter this new world with eyes wide open, Barron wrote.
Sports betting is rolling out this summer in Pennsylvania and across the country in the wake of a May U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended a longstanding federal prohibition on this form of gambling.
Before the ruling, full-bore sports betting was primarily limited to Nevada.
Pennsylvania lawmakers essentially pre-authorized sports bets here on professional or collegiate games last year contingent on court or congressional approval, subject to further regulation by the gaming control board.
The building of that regulatory framework is where we are now.
PGCB spokesman Doug Harbach said Penn State’s concerns have been taken under advisement.
“We’ll make some determinations exactly in the next set of regulations what will be wagered upon by the public,” referring to a set of rules and regs that is likely to be put up for consideration by the board in July.
Barron’s proposal is not for a total exclusion of betting on collegiate sports, or even, necessarily, a permanent ban on betting on the local favorites.
“We are asking for the time needed,” he wrote, “… to initiate and strengthen our policies and procedures related to sports wagering in order to educate, train and protect our students, student athletes, coaches and staff members, as well as preserving the integrity of our colleges and universities and their associated athletic programs.”
Barron suggested Pennsylvania regulators adopt New Jersey’s model, which has prohibited betting on any collegiate games in New Jersey or elsewhere that involve a New Jersey school.
That, he said he believes, is “the right balance of allowing for sports wagering on collegiate sporting events and… protecting the integrity of collegiate sport events and the welfare of students-athletes domiciled in that state.”
Barron’s proposal was submitted as part of a larger batch of public comments PGCB has received as part of its preparations for the launch of sports betting, possibly as early as this fall’s football season.
The president’s letter made the point that the fact that collegiate athletes are not paid “creates an opportunity for inappropriate influence” that does not exist at the high major league levels.
A moratorium while schools can develop internal policies and the state can re-examine whether tighter rules need to be applied to collegiate games would be wise, Barron stated.