SNIDER: D.C. must allow betting on college sports

Rick Snider
May 16, 2019 - 10:29 am
D.C. government should allow bets on local college sports.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

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District officials may not allow wagering on local colleges when finalizing its sports gambling plans in the coming weeks.

Sorry, but when it comes to betting, it’s time to go all-in.

D.C. Lottery, which oversees sports betting that should begin this fall, is planning to prohibit wagering on local college teams. College events played in the city by non-local teams, such as basketball tournaments, would also be prohibited. 

The request by John Cavanaugh, leader of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, is to prevent gambling from impacting college athletes and, you know, their studies. The request was first reported by WAMU.org.

This is such a naïve thought. Do city leaders think there’s not already illegal wagering that involves local colleges? Seriously, there’s betting on local high school games.

Maybe legalizing sports betting will decrease some local bookmaking, but whatever isn’t on the legal board is still in play with your neighborhood bookie. So, pressure on college players is there and even more so at the street level than professional gamblers crunching numbers.

Also, if Washington doesn’t allow wagering on local colleges, Maryland certainly will whenever legalizing gambling in the coming years. So, this ban would solve nothing.

If Washington is to permit sports wagering, it can’t go halfway. Sure, pro teams will gain the lion’s share of wagering. They have bigger audiences. When was the last time you saw any game other than basketball by George Washington, Georgetown or American on TV?

But limiting wagering to just pros and not colleges is fooling no one. If betting is OK, then it’s OK for everything. College students are 18 years old. Last time I checked, 18-year-old soldiers were defending our country, guns at the ready, so someone of the same age should be able to handle the pressure of playing sports.

Frankly, I’d prefer legalized gambling be limited to Nevada and websites. It will corrupt the love of the game by fans and ultimately sports will be diminished by it. Do you think anyone goes to tracks just to see horses race? Do they say, “What a great effort by that winner” without a bet? Not a chance.

But, the Supreme Court allowed sports betting last year and we’re now on a new journey. We might as all walk together, colleges included.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks

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