We’re entering some uncharted territory here, as the summer-collegiate Northwoods League is lobbying for approval on legal, regulated sports/fantasy wagering in multiple Midwestern states.
It’s no secret sports wagering is rapidly becoming a thing for MLB teams, with several teams adding sports books connected to or easily accessible from ballparks, with teams also promoting gambling apps as part of the game experience. It’s not a trend, however, that’s been embraced by the NCAA, which has opposed efforts by states to legalize sports betting.
Hence the reference to entering uncharted territories. There are really two aspects to today’s news about the Northwoods League embracing wagering: the embrace and the efforts to ensure that embrace is handled legitimately.
In the Midwest, betting on sports is legal in Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. Fantasy sports are legal in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and North Dakota. In a press release, the Northwoods League announced efforts to promote legal, regulated sports betting in the league’s U.S. footprint, as well as engaging fans via a fantasy baseball game and a free-to-play prediction game embedded in the league’s phone app.
Second, the Northwoods League has brought in U.S. Integrity as it seeks to gain approval for this regulated wagering. According to a press release, “USI is assisting in the wagering approval process and will monitor all Northwoods League games for potentially nefarious betting-related behavior from match-fixing to game manipulation.”
“We are very well positioned to pursue this endeavor with our video and technological capabilities,” said Northwoods League Chairman, Dick Radatz, Jr. “U.S. Integrity has taken a year long process and reduced it to a matter of months. We are looking forward to a long and mutually beneficial partnership.”
The whole sports gambling trend has the potential to blow up: all it will take in one scandal to topple a house of cards. That’s the reason why the NCAA has turned away entreaties to embrace gambling; it’s why MiLB’s Pat O’Conner raises concerns about sports gambling during his tenure in the sport.
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