NCAA’s Campaign Against College Prop Bets Could Impact Virginia’s Efforts To Legalize Wagering On In-state Teams

Written By Cheryl Coward on April 3, 2024
Richmond skyline. Viriginia failed to pass a bill allowing in-state college betting and now face pressure from NCAA not to allow college prop betting

Unless they traveled across state lines, Virginians had to sit out on March Madness betting action on home-state college teams. They also couldn’t place prop bets on players in the Big Dance.

A state legislative effort, Senate Bill 124, which would have legalized wagering on in-state college teams, failed to exit the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee in March and is now on hold until 2025.

Furthermore, continued campaigning by the NCAA to ban prop bets on college athletes may affect the bill’s fate next year.

NCAA continues campaign to end college prop bets

Along with prohibiting betting on in-state college teams, Virginia sports betting regulations also ban betting on youth sports, something no state allows.

While betting on college sports brings in millions in tax revenue, some states with legalized sports wagering prohibit residents from placing bets on in-state college athletic events or making prop bets on any college team.

In the year that he has been the NCAA’s president, former Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker has been vocal in his opposition to college prop bets. His latest salvo came via social media right before Sweet 16 play began in the NCAA tournament.

“Sports betting issues are on the rise across the country, with prop bets continuing to threaten the integrity of competition and leading to student-athletes getting harassed. The NCAA has been working with states to deal with these threats, and many are responding by banning college prop bets.

“This week, we will be contacting officials across the country in states that still allow these bets and ask them to join Ohio, Vermont, Maryland and many others and remove college prop bets from all betting markets. The NCAA is drawing the line on sports betting to protect student-athletes and to protect the integrity of the game. Issues across the country these last several days show there is more work to be done.”

With the NCAA breathing down their necks and a rise in sports betting-related harassment targeting college players, some states, as Baker noted, have heeded the NCAA’s request and banned prop bets.

Student-athletes at risk of harassment from bettors

Since some types of prop bets hinge on the individual performance of players during a game, it makes student-athletes vulnerable to harassment from bettors who lose money.

Many bettors are in close proximity to the athletes on campus and around town. Some have harassed players on social media. These incidents have sparked physical safety and mental health concerns for students, according to Stan Wilcox, NCAA executive vice president of regulatory affairs.

“While sports wagering creates opportunities for our fans to uniquely engage with NCAA competition in a legal and responsible manner, we have to be mindful of the enhanced risks it creates, particularly around student-athlete well-being and competition integrity.”

Future of in-state college betting in Virginia

If SB 124 fails next year, it probably will not be the last time a similar bill lands in the General Assembly. In its current form, the bill would not allow prop betting. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Schuyler VanValkenburg, D-Henrico, put forth a similar measure in 2022 when he served as a delegate.

In the two committee votes for the bill, it received bipartisan support, with a 12-2 vote in the General Laws and Technology Committee and a 14-0 vote in the Finance and Appropriations Committee. The two nays in the first committee vote were split between a Democrat and a Republican.

With all the state’s college teams out of the Big Dance, as none advanced past the second round, maybe bettors in Virginia actually saved some money this year.

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Cheryl Coward

Cheryl Coward started her career as a news reporter in Washington, DC. She's a die-hard women's basketball fan and founded the website as a result of that passion. She loves writing about sports on all levels and has previous experience covering sports betting regulations, operator marketing campaigns, and women's sports gambling topics.

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