The United States Supreme Court ruled to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 earlier this month, allowing states to decide on their own if they want to legalize sports betting. With states like New Jersey, Mississippi and others prepared for this within casinos that already exist, the NCAA needed to move fast to address the issue.
The NCAA announced Thursday that it will support a federal model on legalized sports gambling, but warned of some concerns it has related to the impact of the new law on its student athletes.
"Our highest priorities in any conversation about sports wagering are maintaining the integrity of competition and student-athlete well-being," NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. "Sports wagering can adversely impact student-athletes and undermine the games they play. We are committed to ensuring that laws and regulations promote a safe and fair environment for the nearly half a million students who play college athletics."
Instead of states regulating sports betting, the NCAA is pushing for a national oversight board that would oversee all aspects of new laws within states.
"While we recognize the critical role of state governments, strong federal standards are necessary to safeguard the integrity of college sports and the athletes who play these games at all levels," Emmert said.
In addition to the support for a federal model, the NCAA announced that it has temporarily suspended its own policy that prevented NCAA championship events from being hosted in states that offer legalized sports betting. In previous years, events like the NCAA basketball tournaments and other championship events that are operated by the NCAA were not allowed to be hosted in Nevada due to the policy.
The approval opens the door for the NCAA holding championship events in states where betting on sports is legal. In time, it's expected that this temporary suspension of NCAA policy will become full-time, given that legal sports betting is set to become commonplace in states across the country.
This means college basketball heading to Las Vegas for March Madness is now an increased possibility.
The Final Four sites through 2022 have been determined. An NCAA representative told CBS Sports on Thursday that the 2023-26 bid cycle for Final Fours will be decided upon and made public this July. Putting the Final Four in Las Vegas in the next bid cycle would not be a likelihood, however, because the NCAA historically likes to have "dress rehearsals" in Final Four cities by hosting preliminary rounds of the tournament there.
In terms of Las Vegas, that means it is more likely that a site, such as the T-Mobile Arena, would be granted first- or second-weekend hosting duties before a Final Four. The bid cycle for those rounds will not begin until 2020 and will not be announced until the fall of that year, according to the NCAA. Las Vegas could host the first or second weekend of the NCAA Tournament in 2023, 2024, 2025 or 2026, but it will be more than two years before we know if that's the case.
While the policy on hosting championship events has been suspended for the time being, the NCAA still prohibits gambling sponsorships and advertising at FBS bowl games and championship events. It also prohibits student-athletes, athletic department employees and coaches from wagering on sports -- even in states that offer legalized sports wagering.