If Massachusetts legalizes sports betting but bans wagers on college sports, the integrity of those games and the well-being of the athletes will be put at risk, a national gaming industry group this week told Massachusetts lawmakers.

The American Gaming Association made its thoughts known in a letter to House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Karen Spilka and the six legislators who have been negotiating an economic development bill since late July.

The House authorized legal sports betting, including on college games, in its economic development bill but the Senate did not authorize any betting.

“Allowing legal, regulated wagering on collegiate events strengthens the integrity of games and protects bettors, competitions, and the athletes competing in them by enabling robust, transparent, and collaborative monitoring by regulators and law enforcement,” Christopher Cylke, AGA’s senior vice president of government relations, wrote. “Only in a legal, regulated market do regulators and law enforcement have insight into betting patterns and activity that can help them identify concerning trends that in turn help to uncover unlawful tampering with games and athletes. No such protection exists in the illegal marketplace.”

The presidents and athletic directors of the eight Massachusetts colleges and universities that have Division I sports programs told the same group of lawmakers last month that allowing bets on college sports will lead to “unnecessary and unacceptable risks to student athletes, their campus peers, and the integrity and culture of colleges and universities in the Commonwealth.”

When the economic development bill and the House’s sports betting proposal went into conference committee negotiations, the Senate appeared far less interested in the idea than the House.

Senate leaders omitted the legalization of sports wagering from its version of the jobs bill and suggested they thought it would be more appropriately dealt with on its own, but didn’t offer a timeline for action as the 2019-2020 session winds down.

(Copyright (c) 2023 State House News Service.

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