One of the top officials in US collegiate athletics said Thursday that his conference has seen an increase in gambling on its events over the past five years. Sankey told APSE that the conference gets betting data from US Integrity on a weekly basis that gives them insights into gambling behaviors both within the conference and nationally.
Legalized sports betting has grown rapidly over the four years since the US Supreme Court ruled PASPA unconstitutional. Across the US, 30 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico now allow retail sportsbooks, online wagering, or both. Four more states have passed laws and are in the process of launching the product in the near future.
Mental Health Concerns
Sankey tells APSE members that college athletic administrations were caught off guard by the rise of legal sports betting.
“In a time when our young people are continually seeking more mental health support as a society, if we are not open and attentive to the reality being (created) from sports gambling then we are abdicating our responsibility,” Sankey said. “This is a significant factor in their lives that has been introduced. … It affects our coaches as well, plenty of pressure there at our level, they accept that but this is a changing dynamic that we have not at all been attentive, too.”
It’s not the first time Sankey has brought up the connection between student-athletes’ mental health and sports betting. At the 2019 SEC Football Media Days, he referenced the potential impact in-game betting could have on players.
“We’re seeing trends in the mental health area that should cause us all to pause before these ideas around specific event betting within college sports are allowed to take place,” Sankey said at the time, according to the AP. “And I’m talking about, for example, whether a field goal is made or missed, whether a 3-point try is successful. Is a pitched ball a strike or a ball?
“That pause should happen before any of these types of activities take place.”
“Our goal is to increase the comfort level and knowledge of sports departments in covering sports betting, and to show them how it can be done profitably,” Zach Ewing, director of sports betting for NOLA.com and session moderator, said in a preview article.