It’s no surprise that Sens. McCain and Brownback have yet again introduced a bill that would ban legal college sports wagering in Nevada. This misguided approach absolves the NCAA of any responsibility to clean its own house. The more that members of Congress learn about the facts, the more they recognize that the real solution is to directly address the widespread illegal gambling occurring on college campuses.
What is a surprise is that this bill fails to include two amendments that passed the Senate Commerce Committee overwhelmingly at last year’s markup in response to the NCAA’s claim that students receive “mixed messages.” One amendment would have banned NCAA corporate sponsors from conducting sweepstakes relating to its games, and another would have required colleges to report gambling crimes and inform students that sports gambling is illegal. By this omission, the NCAA is asking the federal government to place blame on others for its own problems while refusing to accept any measure that might require the organization itself or its members to address illegal gambling. We would remind those concerned about gambling on college sports that 99 percent of it takes place illegally.
In introducing his bill, Sen. McCain erroneously implies that federal legislation is needed to ban wagering on Olympic and high school sports. In fact, such wagering is already illegal in all 50 states, including Nevada.
We support substantive, comprehensive legislation that would strengthen enforcement of existing laws against illegal gambling and increase criminal penalties, evaluate the extent and causes of illegal gambling, and require colleges and universities to put in place education programs on illegal gambling for their students. This legislation [S. 338 and H.R. 641] has bipartisan support from more than 80 co-sponsors in the House and Senate.
We strongly oppose the McCain and Graham-Roemer bills and are confident that, like the many other members of Congress who have already announced their support for legislation to address illegal gambling, others will join in backing the only measure before Congress that proposes a real solution to a real problem.