May 8, 2024 3 min read

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March Madness Sees 2K Cases of Bettor Harassment, NCAA Says

There was a total of 4,000 cases that required the attention of a social media platform or law enforcement, while nearly 2,000 of those cases were related to betting harassment

The nationwide expansion of sports betting granted bettors and sports fans in different US states access to legal betting in their home states. Yet, amid the expansion of wagering, concerns about the integrity of sports and the negative impact of betting continue to mount. Over the last couple of years, a number of scandals broke out, involving professional and collegiate athletes, who were accused of breaching betting regulations. More concerningly, abuse against athletes by bettors has also been on the rise, with one in three athletes receiving abusive messages on social media.

Such concerns are not unfounded and were in fact confirmed by Mark Hicks, the NCAA’s managing director, who recently discussed the topic with Martin Lycka, Entain’s SVP of American regulatory affairs and responsible gambling. The discussion was a part of the SBC Summit North America Player Protection Symposium with the NCAA’s executive disclosing concerning data about the harassment against athletes within the online vertical.

Hicks cited data from NCAA’s partner, Signify, along with other information collected during March Madness, revealing that a whopping 50,000 reports of harassment of athletes online were recorded. From that total, some 4,000 were reported to law enforcement, social media platforms or both, according to Hicks.

A further breakdown revealed that out of the 4,000 cases, approximately 2,000 were related to sports betting. The NCAA managing director spoke about the importance of integrity but added that the number of cases reaffirms the need for additional protection of the well-being of athletes, amid the expansion of sports betting.

The NCAA Focuses on Athlete Well-being

The latest data comes at a time when more states are considering a ban on college prop bets. The popular proposition bets, known as prop bets, allow bettors to place wagers on different aspects of a game, rather than the outcome itself.

Identifying the potential negative influence of prop bets on college athletes, including increased pressure and potential abuse from gamblers online, states such as Louisiana and Ohio implemented a ban on college prop bets.

Yet, other states are still considering such restrictions despite the call of NCAA’s president, Charlie Baker, who is an outspoken critic of the activity considering the growing harassment of athletes by bettors.

The policies that went into NCAA legislation years and years ago were really integrity-focused, but now we’re really starting to focus on athlete well-being.

Mark Hicks, managing director of the NCAA

While Hicks spoke about previous NCAA policies that focused on integrity, he highlighted the need for athlete protection. He explained that the NCAA isn’t like the MLB, NBA or the NFL, explaining that the Association consists of some half a million student-athletes. Hicks added that while integrity remains a focus for the NCAA, it will also dedicate efforts toward the well-being of student-athletes.

Co-editor

William Velichkov is a research-driven writer. His strengths lie in ensuring factual accuracy, vetting government documentation and reaching out to regulators and other officials. He is particularly fond of financial reporting, the sports betting industry, B2B partnerships and esports betting developments. William is a strong asset to the GamblingNews team as he adds a bedrock to our reporting.

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