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McCain, Gambling and College Basketball

By September 30, 2008

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You can't buy a John McCain throwback jersey like Barack Obama's. But the republican candidate's legislative resume suggests that he might have a significant impact on college sports if elected.

In 2004, McCain was the sponsor of legislation that would have banned casino gambling on college sports. The measure was opposed by the Las Vegas casinos and was ultimately defeated because, as McCain put it in a recent interview with Bob Ley of ESPN, "Americans like to wager."

The relationship of gambling -- legal and otherwise -- and college sports is particularly sticky. Pro athletes make so much money these days, it seems unlikely that an NBA, NFL or MLB player would risk his career to make a couple of bucks by associating with gamblers. But college athletes don't make any money -- and most of them don't have the option of a pro career to bring in big dollars after graduation. Some say that makes student-athletes more susceptible to temptation.

On the other hand, gambling is one of the big drivers of the popularity of college sports -- an estimated $2.4 billion is wagered on the NCAA Tournament alone.

What to do? Should the government re-visit the proposed ban on college sports betting? Are the NCAA and its member institutions doing enough to prevent gamblers from exerting improper influence on games? Would this problem go away if players got some sort of cut of the revenues they create?

Post your answer in our poll, and join the discussion in the forum.


September 30, 2008 at 12:34 pm
(1) Sukhmandir Kaur says:

I think gambling has *tons* of problems associated with it Charlie. However I ‘m not in favor of imposing governmental legislation, regulations and restrictions on people’s freedoms. I’m sure the govít is already getting taxes. If Washington doesn’t want the revenue (like thatís going to happen;) and is truly against gambling for moral reasons, then they could use revenues to sponsor Gambling Addiction Anonymous

September 30, 2008 at 12:49 pm
(2) collegebasketball says:

I’m not a big fan of big government either… but in this case I’m sort of willing to make an exception, only because sports gambling is so heavily regulated already. Direct gambling on college sports is illegal just about everywhere already (except in Nevada casinos).

Now, if they tried to take away my NCAA Tournament pool… that’s another matter.

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