In many cases, government regulations improve situations. One state is finding early on that a laissez faire approach is actually ideal for college sports betting.
Unfortunately, Indiana seems to be in a minority of states to understand that concept. Compared to other states dabbling in legal sports betting, the Hoosier State’s framework for wagering on college games is better for many reasons.
The regulations on college sports betting in Indiana
Indiana state law and the Indiana Gaming Commission treat wagers on college sporting events like any other bets. The sporting events sanctioned for sports betting in the state have no additional regulations placed on them.
Because of that, Indiana’s colleges and universities enjoy the same regulatory protections that the Indiana Pacers do. The state’s approach also allows Indiana legal sportsbooks to offer a wide variety of action on college sports.
That helps those sportsbooks compete with illegal bookies and offshore betting channels. As a result, state law protects Indiana’s college athletes from manipulation of illegal betting schemes.
A recent scandal involving college athletes in a state where sports betting is illegal shows the dangers of relegating wagering on such events to the “black market.” It’s the exact situation that Indiana is best suited to prevent altogether.
The demand for insider information on NCAA games
Last week, several Louisiana Tech football players were suspended for the Ragin’ Cajuns’ game against Marshall. Before the suspension became common knowledge, lines in Las Vegas shifted throughout the week.
The Thundering Herd started out as a two-point favorite on Monday. Thursday morning, those lines had moved to make Marshall a 4.5-point favorite. Louisiana Tech didn’t announce the suspensions until Thursday evening, however.
Because of the suspicious timeline, multiple investigations were launched. Questions arose about who knew about the suspensions prior to the announcement and whether that knowledge was used in placing bets on the game prior to the announcement.
Although sports betting is legal in Nevada, it remains illegal in Louisiana. Those in Louisiana wishing to wager have one of two choices: make the trip to neighboring Mississippi to place legal bets at brick-and-mortar sportsbooks there or use the illegal methods.
Those who engage in black market wagering are more likely to use their resources to gain insider information about those bets. Unfortunately, some states with legalized sports betting have at least partially kept college wagering in the shadows.
Illinois, Iowa and Tennessee’s flawed approaches
One state that neighbors Indiana and two others that will soon offer legalized sports betting have special regulations for college athletes/games. In all three instances, the regulations are appear problematic.
Iowa doesn’t allow in-game bets on college athletes’ performances. Tennessee takes that a step further with a ban on prop bets involving college athletes and their teams.
Illinois’ restriction doesn’t pertain to the type of bet but the subject of the wager. Any kind of bets on in-state college teams are illegal in Illinois.
Legal sportsbooks in these states are at a disadvantage. The states are also sacrificing opportunities to claim revenue going to offshore sites. Even worse, it could lead to more situations involving insider information that lead to harm to college athletes.
Indiana has protected its athletes and colleges and set its sportsbooks up for success by doing nothing. In the process, the Hoosier State is proving itself a great example for other markets. Whether those markets will learn from Indiana remains to be seen.