College betting bill gains support
Nevada’s U.S. Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign attempted to keep the odds in favor of Nevada’s sports betting industry by introducing the NCAA Protection Act of 2001 to Congress this past month.
The bill, which is heading to the Senate Judiciary Committee, would increase the penalties on illegal betting. It was introduced Feb. 14 in an attempt to counter legislation presented last year by Sens. Sam Brownback, R- Kan., and John McCain, R-Ariz., which would place a national ban on legal gambling of all NCAA events.
The NCAA, which has the support of a group of high-profile coaches, want legal gambling on their events stopped because they say it places heavy influence on their athletes to alter the outcome of games through point shaving. They are also hopeful that the ban would quell the efforts of “bookies” to operate on their campuses.
Nevada lawmakers are skeptical this ban will help the issue and some believe it will make things worse, citing Nevada’s strict regulation of legal sports gambling prevents point shaving from happening. Officials also feel that the NCAA is using legal betting in Nevada as a scapegoat for the problems of illegal betting on their college campuses.
Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Brian Sandoval argued that the NCAA’s efforts to ban sports betting would “eliminate Nevada’s watchdog role in this whole process.”
With his recent appointment to Congress, Ensign said that his efforts combined with his close relationships to key members on Capitol Hill will help pass the NCAA Protection Act. He has continued to gain support for the bill including the recent co-sponsorship by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R- Utah, who is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“I am excited that Sen. Hatch is going to help us with this bill,” Ensign said. “He is a well-respected leader here on the hill and his support is a real boost for this bill.”
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