Mar 23rd, 2022 |
106: Wanna Bet? The NCAA’s U-turn on College Sports Gambling
For nearly seventy years, the NCAA militantly opposed any association with any component of the gambling industry. Now, with the NCAA’s/Power 5’s amateurism model in question, Big Amateurism is normalizing its burgeoning relationship with Big Gambling. On the backside of a 2018 US Supreme Court decision striking down a 1992 federal anti-gambling law (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act), the NCAA has quietly shifted to gambling-friendly messaging. In 2018, just after the Supreme Court decision, the NCAA partnered with Genius Sports. A central component of Genius’ business model is to purchase “official” sports data from professional sports leagues for resale to third parties in the sports gambling market. Genius bought the right to use and manage official NCAA statistical data. According to the NCAA, its contract with Genius does not permit Genius to use NCAA data for sports betting. However, in a recent op-ed piece in Sportico, the president and founder of Genius suggested that its ten-year contract with the NCAA envisioned an NCAA transition to college sports gambling. Just two weeks ago, the Mid-American Conference (MAC) announced its partnership with Genius. While the parties have been coy about the terms of that contract, comments by the MAC conference commissioner suggest that Genius will use MAC data for gambling. This episode discusses the normalization of college sports gambling by the NCAA, conferences, sports media, and gambling industry interests. This fundamental change in NCAA values is being re-propagandized as a wonderful thing for “student-athletes,” particularly those in women’s and “Olympic” sports.