The college sports industry is experiencing a crisis that has not been seen since the repealing of PASPA. The mainstream media, colleges and conferences have all been interested in what is happening in Iowa. While this incident was isolated to Iowa State and Iowa, it has drawn the attention of mainstream media, colleges, conferences, and the industry.
Before this year, all stakeholders from the school and regulator to the operator agreed athletes and coaching staff shouldn’t be betting. The NCAApolicy is very clear about sports betting of any kind. In almost every regulated industry, there are rules about wagering by athletes and staff.
There are laws that prohibit athletes from betting. The issue is enforcement.
The vast majority of states that have legalized sports betting use some form of prohibition language. Usually, this means you cannot bet if you are involved in, coaching, officiating or have any influence over, a particular sport. “Really good rule, simple and easy to understand,” US integrity Founder Matt Holt said SBC Americas.
The industry has not had a practical solution to enforce this rule since 2018.
This is changing. US Integrity launched ProhiBet in early this year, partnering with odds on compliance. It was previously difficult to enforce rules because it was hard to respect leagues and players’ privacy and to provide information to operators and regulators about active rosters.
Holt said that it was not acceptable to have people know Aaron Rodgers’s home address, cell phone number, or email.
ProhiBet is a cryptographic software that encrypts data, allowing for greater league and team collaboration.
ProhiBet uses the same high-tech as the banking industry to encrypt the information. Operators can now obtain the information needed to prevent athletes and staff from placing bets, and schools, teams and other organizations are more willing than ever to provide this information.
Matt Heap , ProhiBet’s CEO said that this was long overdue. “Now that this is here and that it is something that can be produced in the market I think people really are like wow, we need to get onboard.”
The list of NCAA teams using ProhiBet is growing. This month, ProhiBet was added to the Big12conferences.
Regulators are also increasing their pressure to prevent future incidents such as the one in Iowa. Iowa is one of many jurisdictions that want to see more prominent messages about account sharing. The campaign won’t end there.
Holt pointed out that these regulations were already in place, but operators could claim they couldn’t guarantee athletes and staff wouldn’t bet on their app. Now that technology is available, regulators may be more inclined to enforce the regulations.
Now that there is a solution, regulators could take action against operators
“[Regulators] wanted it but didn’t have a way to enforce it. There’s a chance to say that technology is available. Take advantage of the technology. You guys should implement the rules we are putting forth. I believe that regulators who have these types of regulations on their books will look for ways to monitor it more closely,” explained Odds on Compliance’s CEO and Co-Founder Eric Frank.
ProhiBet prevents athletes from placing bets, but only when they use their own identity.
In Iowa, many players used accounts that belonged to friends or relatives to hide their actions. Several of these players are now facing criminal charges after local law enforcement became involved. What began as an investigation involving two athletes quickly grew to involve dozens of players from two major universities.
The risks of athletes who ignore the rules
“What you suddenly get is geolocation, integrity and other factors as well as cooperative data from sportsbooks.” Holt explained that criminal investigators and regulators, such as the Department of Criminal Investigations of Iowa, are able dig deep, and they can catch people by the thousands when they do so. We’re not trying to catch these people later, but rather to prevent them from placing these bets in the first place.
Holt and Heap see students beginning to understand the seriousness of the sports betting problem as US Integrity, ProhiBet, and other organizations travel the country speaking to schools and conferences. They are also realizing that it is not easy to get around the rules.
“It’s easier to catch if someone else signs up for your account, because we’ll know if it’s from your dorm, the practice field or the locker room. We’ll also know that Mary Smith won’t be in the Atlanta Falcons’ men’s locker rooms. Holt stated, “We just know.” So, these things are very obvious and easy to catch. Our campus sessions include educating our student-athletes on the fact that having someone else create an account can make it easier for you to be caught.
Betting education effort producing good results
Holt and Heap describe meeting with programs, and seeing students realize that while their phone is their prized possession, it also creates a paper record of all they do. It’s time-stamped, and geolocated to ensure accuracy.
The recent educational efforts have made it clear to me that both professional and collegiate athletes are being tracked at a level they had never imagined.
It is clear that the era of turning away an eye is over. These athletes could face anything from suspensions from their team to prison time.