Supreme Court ruling on sports gambling likely to lead to lengthy discussions at KU, across Kansas

Fans raise their hands during the playing of the Alma Mater on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

It is still too early to know whether Kansas will legalize sports betting in the wake of Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling, but already Kansas Athletics can envision the ruling changing its operations.

“This is truly a door that has opened that none of us foresaw even two years ago,” said Sheahon Zenger, KU's athletic director. “So it is going to take a great deal of thought to find our place in an arena that we've been forbidden from all of our lives.”

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling that puts the power to legalize sports gambling in the hands of state government.

Zenger called it a “Brave New World” moment. Critics have raised fears that legalized gambling could make “points shaving” or other forms of corruption more prevalent.

On Monday, Zenger said the list of issues for the athletics department, state and university leaders to consider is significant.

“It's just not something that you solve in a day or a week or a month,” Zenger said. “But I can't imagine we wouldn't have to assign governance to it.”

The 6-3 ruling strikes down the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. Reaction from leaders in Kansas government was mixed on Monday.

“I have not read the Supreme Court brief yet,” Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer said Monday morning. “But we're going to look at that. Certainly it appears that the regulation of this is returning to the states. And so we'll take a look at it when it comes.”

This year alone, two separate bills proposing to legalize sports gambling in Kansas were introduced in the Kansas Legislature, but neither passed. Even if one had, neither would have gone into effect without Monday's ruling.

While uncertainty and a cautious approach is the current tone in the realm of amateur athletics, plenty of organizations viewed Monday's ruling as a victory in and of itself.

Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) predicted the state will take action during next year’s legislative session. She called the Supreme Court's decision “a victory for states' rights.”

“The legalization of sports betting will help diminish illegal gambling operations and allow states to bring their regulations into the 21st century,” she said. “I am confident the Kansas Legislature will act appropriately to regulate sports betting next year.”

Leaders in the gaming industry were downplaying Monday the possibility that the expansion of legalized gambling could damage the integrity of amateur sports.

“Today’s ruling makes it possible for states and sovereign tribal nations to give Americans what they want: an open, transparent, and responsible market for sports betting,” Geoff Freeman, the president of the American Gaming Association, said. Through smart, efficient regulation this new market will protect consumers, preserve the integrity of the games we love, empower law enforcement to fight illegal gambling, and generate new revenue for states, sporting bodies, broadcasters and many others.”

Scott Cooley, spokesperson for BetDSI, an online sportsbook based in Costa Rica, said he was not worried about the ruling or any negative impacts increased sports betting may have on sports as a whole.

“The integrity of the sport is an angle that antagonists have used in the fight against the legalization of sports betting, but it's not one I consider credible,” Cooley said in an email with the Journal-World. “Point-shaving, match-fixing or whatever you want to call it, has happened throughout the course of sports history, even at a time when gambling was not legal in the United States at all. And I don't believe those isolated and rare incidents will increase when betting on sports becomes widely available.”

For those who ever have wondered how widespread and prevalent sports gambling is in the current climate need look no further than the fact that BetDSI actually placed odds on the Supreme Court's ruling, with the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 being overturned as the slight favorite (-145) over the ban being upheld (+115).

— Journal-World Statehouse reporter Peter Hancock contributed to this report.

Comments

Andy Godwin

I might set the odds in heavy favor of Kansas ultimately legalizing sports betting, given the state is in debt and needs ways to find additional revenue streams other than raising income taxes. Once the Kansas legislation determines their cut, they will likely approve some form or other of sports betting.

6 months ago

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Gary McCullough

What's next? Legalize Pot? How can we ever have confidence that our game is clean with everyone and his brother putting down a bet?

6 months ago

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Jeff Coffman

Two years ago none of us saw this coming...one more reason Zenger has absolutely no vision. He probably doesn't realize the grant of rights expire in three.

Fire him already.

6 months ago

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Jay Scott

"None of us saw this coming"

"one more reason Zenger has absolutely no vision"

Trying to seem stupid on purpose?

6 months ago

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Jeff Coffman

Read the article...Zenger stated that.

You place "stupid" in a lot of your posts. For some reason you think Zenger is doing a good job as well...please enlighten us with your wisdom, since we are stupid in your mind.

6 months ago

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Jay Scott

Jeff...If having your post called stupid bothers you so much, don't post stupid things.
KU sports is doing well in every area but one. That sport is a few decades from not existing at all.

6 months ago

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Larry Smith

Considering the grant of rights doesn't expire until 2025, I sure hope he doesn't think it expires in three...........

6 months ago

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Jeff Coffman

I did mess up the timing...my point is that, if he doesn't have a plan for the next time it comes up, we are in trouble.

He infers that he did not even ponder the betting change and it has been gaining steam in the courts for five years. I'm not saying he should have a contingent of options, but he hasn't even considered the possibilities for KU Sports. This is law directly tied to amateur sports and he wasn't even thinking about it.

6 months ago

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Brad Farha

Jeff -- the Grant of Rights agreement expires June 2025.

6 months ago

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Jeff Coffman

Everyone thinks sports betting is a solver of revenue and tax dollars. Sports betting is a very low margin business. Take the Superbowl, $100mm was bet on the game in Nevada, only about $1.2 mm was won by the entire sportsbooks. The winnings are than taxed.

I always think it's funny that the sports leagues want an integrity fee...are they inferring there is no integrity in the game today?

6 months ago

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Larry Smith

Do you just make this stuff up? Where did you get those figures?

6 months ago

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Jeff Coffman

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/...

Sorry $158MM bet, and only $1.2MM won...even a lower margin of business than I inferred.

Are the NBA teams going to take 1% of $158MM...the books aren't going to lose.

6 months ago

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Harlan Hobbs

Hey, it's a free country! However, on one hand, the FBI and NCAA are investigating payments to families to get top players to attend certain universities, and then we are promoting more sports betting. Seems a little incongruous and hypocritical to me.

6 months ago

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Tony Bandle

I'll mortgage my house and bet against KU football versus the spread [much less losing] every game and will win a fortune!!

Conversely, I'll bet on KU basketball to beat the spread [much less winning] at Allen Field House every game [except Villanova] and will win another fortune!! :}

6 months ago

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Jeff Coffman

You better check KU BB against the spread...it isn't as pretty as you think.

I'm pretty sure that in the tournament this year we only covered against Duke, the rest of the 4 games we did not.

6 months ago

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