Sara Slane, the American Gaming Association’s senior vice president of public affairs, has responded to comments made by NCAA President Mark Emmert to the effect that the advent of legalized sports betting would have a negative impact on the integrity of collegiate sports.

In a statement issued to SBC Americas, she countered: “In recent remarks at the NCAA Annual Convention, NCAA President Mark Emmert suggested that continued legalization and regulation of sports wagering across the country ‘…is going to have a dramatic impact on everything we do in college sports [and will] threaten the integrity of college sports in many ways’.

“Mr. Emmert is failing to address, or choosing to ignore the decades-old, massive illegal market for sports betting in this country – which includes betting on collegiate athletics – that continues to thrive. Surely the NCAA can’t support the status quo.”

Slane, instead, supports legalization as a means to promoting integrity in sports, primarily by protecting bettors and athletes from illegal operations. “Sports wagering is a multi-billion dollar, sophisticated enterprise that, if left primarily in the shadows, will continue to threaten competition and bet integrity, tax law enforcement resources and perpetuate the vulnerability of athletes – particularly unpaid amateur athletes – to bad actors in the illegal market,” she said.

“Only by legalizing and regulating this popular American activity can we offer protection to competition, consumers and competitors, ensure that responsible sports wagering is properly regulated, and that those laws are enforced.”

Slane concluded: “The AGA continues to support the expansion of legal, regulated sports wagering. In the eight states where sports betting is now legal, consumers have a viable, safe alternative to place bets and benefit from the protection of stringent oversight by experienced gaming regulators. Without legalization, none of these protections exist and we leave game and bet integrity, consumers and athletes vulnerable.”