Dear Mr. Feyer:
During the past year, The New York Times on numerous occasions has, as commentary, only presented one side of the current debate over college sports wagering. Your readers deserve to hear both sides of the issue.
Although the NCAA admits that bookies are operating on nearly every college campus in America, it is proposing as a “solution” to this illegal gambling a ban on legal college sports wagering in Nevada. There is no more connection between illegal gambling on campuses and legal gambling in Nevada than there is between binge drinking in fraternity houses and California vineyard tours. Students have easy access to offshore Web sites and campus bookies, while in Nevada - where the industry is regulated, policed and taxed - you must be 21 years old and physically present to place a bet. Because Nevada is not the initial or the only source of betting lines, students would continue to have access to this information on the Internet or in newspapers.
The NCAA suggests that it can’t address its problem effectively until college sports wagering is illegal everywhere. But just because gambling is legal in Nevada does not mean illegal activity can’t be effectively addressed elsewhere. Nobody is suggesting, for example, that alcohol be banned universally to minimize underage drinking.
The gaming industry is not alone in its opposition to the NCAA’s proposal. Political and sports columnists, problem gambling treatment providers, noted academic researchers and newspaper editorials all have condemned the NCAA’s misguided approach.
A real solution would address the real problem of illegal gambling. We support bills that would increase penalties and enforcement, study underage betting and require schools to implement gambling-education programs on their campuses. All of these measures were recommended by the NCAA or the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, yet the NCAA opposes this legislation. However, many in Congress agree with this approach, and it already has gained strong bipartisan support in both the Senate and House.
When people hear the facts, they recognize the NCAA-supported measure for what it is: a cosmetic proposal that will do absolutely nothing to address illegal sports gambling on college campuses.
Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr.