Key New York Regulator Agrees With NCAA President On Nationwide Sports Betting Ban of College Player Props

Written By Dan Holmes on April 18, 2024
Image of NCAA president Charlie Baker with basketball player behind him for a story on New York sports betting regulators supporting a ban on props for college players

The chair of the New York State Gaming Commission has gone on the record with his support of a nationwide ban on college player prop bets.

Brian O’Dwyer recently sent a letter to NCAA President Charlie Baker explaining his agreement with Baker’s call for such action in every state where sports betting is legal.

Such a ban would impact sports betting in New York, but it’s not evident if it would solve a problem that exists.

“As regulators of the largest sports betting market in the United States, we continue to believe the prohibition of college proposition betting on student-athletes is appropriate,” O’Dwyer wrote in a letter dated April 15 and sent under the letterhead of the NYSGC, which includes the name of Gov. Kathy Hochul.

New York already prohibits college player prop betting

Prior to the industry launching in 2022, New York made the decision to prohibit player prop bets on collegiate athletes as a protection for those student/athletes in the NCAA.

A player prop bet is a wager tied to the performance of a specific athlete. For example, how many passing yards a college quarterback will have or how many points or assists a college basketball player may record in a given game.

Currently, 38 states have legalized some form of sports betting. Of those that have active sports betting markets, only six allow college player prop bets without restrictions, including Indiana, Michigan and North Carolina.

In comments he made last month, Baker signaled that the NCAA views the issue as one of athlete safety.

“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,” Baker said in a statement in March.

Despite Baker’s assertion, there has been no data that shows an increase in harassment of college athletes, or elevated cases of gambling addiction. It may be that not enough research has been completed on the subject yet.

O’Dwyer: New York proud of leadership role in sports betting regulation

New York lawmakers and regulatory officials took care to craft procedures to safeguard their sports betting market. Part of that was the prohibition of wagering on student/athlete performance.

“With the commencement of legal sports wagering in our state,” O.Dwyer wrote in his letter to the NCAA president, “the New York State Gaming Commission made a policy determination to prohibit individual athletic-based proposition betting within any collegiate event, as we shared the same desire to insulate student-athletes from potential harassment.

“We are pleased that many states have followed our lead and have since adopted such a similar restriction.”

How likely is a nationwide ban on college player props?

Baker’s words have led to action already. Maryland and Ohio are two states that banned college player props after they launched their sports betting markets. Those actions came at least in part due to concerns raised by the NCAA and other groups.

But advocates for a regulated sports betting market point out that banning this type of wager may only force bettors to funnel their bets to offshore, illegal bookmakers.

According to Ohio regulators, less than 2% of the bets placed in their state on college athletics were college player prop variety. Any ban that sends bettors to wager with illegal sportsbooks would make that activity impossible to regulate and monitor.

It may help Baker’s case that two high-profile sports betting scandals have recently emerged, however.

Former Toronto Raptors center Jontay Porter was banned permanently by the NBA this week after an investigation revealed he influenced his own player prop outcomes. And, of course, Dodgers slugger Shohei Ohtani is clouded beneath the problems of his former interpreter and close friend, who allegedly stole millions of dollars to pay gambling debts  to illegal bookmakers.

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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is a freelance writer for PlayNY. An author of three books about sports, he previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. Dan enjoys writing, running and lemon bars. He lives near Lake Michigan with his daughters and usually has an orange cream soda nearby.

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