Wednesday, June 03, 2009

NCAA Rules and Montana Gambling Laws--All's Well

This afternoon, I was in a meeting about small business cost for health insurance for employees, and my phone rang (silently). When I checked the message twenty minutes later, it was a call about NCAA championship events in states where gambling on sports is legal. Montana does offer legalized gambling, but no betting on live games.

The issue arises from some court decisions in other states recently, Oregon, Nevada, and Delaware, where NCAA events and state gambling laws have come into conflict. But Montana prohibits live game betting and internet gambling. We prohibit any betting by student athletes, coaches, university personnel on the outcome of games. The Montana Lottery does have fantasy sports games, and has had them since 1991, but the game was on race cars until recently.

I called the Sports Information Director at Montana State University, Bill Lamberty, a friend of mine for many years and a fellow member of the MSU Bobcat Football Stat Crew (I've been on the stat crew 19 years!) He explained that the NCAA has taken a position against sports gambling, and that the NCAA language applies only to actual game betting as the criterion for hosting a post-season championship game.

I called the Montana Lottery and left a message for the director to call. Then I called the University of Montana Law School. I spoke with David Aronofsky, UM Legal Counsel, who graciously described the issue.

The NCAA language says, “No session of an NCAA championship may be conducted in a metropolitan area with legal wagering that is based upon the outcome of any event (i.e., high school, college or professional) in a sport in which the NCAA conducts a championship.”

It seems that the NCAA is reviewing state laws across the nation after a decision last month in Delaware.

Aronofsky is working with the NCAA, and he is confident that Montana law is sound and does not conflict with NCAA rules. If there is some conflict, a bill could be introduced in the legislature to clarify state law.

I'm confident that, after a review, the NCAA will find that Montana teams and athletes comply with state law and NCAA rules, and that there is no conflict.
Montanans follow the rules. We'll comply with state law, federal law, NCAA rules, and any other good sporting policy.

Aronofsky will continue working with the NCAA and their rules that determine eligibility for holding championship games.

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