Sports gambling using live lines is more popular today than ever, although for the past decade governments at all levels have tried to curb the process. The rise of the Internet has allowed gamblers to place their bets more conveniently than ever before. The chance of being caught is lessened, and best of all the bets can be placed by anyone with a computer connection, anywhere. The rise in gambling has certainly seen an increase in the amount of gambling in college sports that takes place, but the most popular event to bet on remains the big year-end NCAA tournament that is colloquially known as March Madness.
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Legal sports betting on the tournament was widely acknowledged to be the base of most legal sports betting operations. Bookies in Nevada, one of the few state that was allowed to accept bets on college sports after a law was passed through Congress in 1992, reported that the tournament accounted for $70 million in wagers, or 10% of the $700 million college betting market much of it due to live lines. Gamblers would line up from opening to closing at bookie operations who were taking bets on the outcomes of games and on the tournament in general.
When it comes to March Madness, there are several forms of gambling that take place. Pools offer bettors to make selections on teams from each round, with points awarded when the predictions prove accurate. Other betting involves standard practices of sports betting, such as offering money lines, live lines and parlays for the outcome of individual games, as well as on the outcome of the tournament. Even the milder forms of gambling, such as team picks, are often illegal in most states and provinces.
There have been numerous attempts by both the NCAA and government bodies to end gambling on the tournament for good, not just by athletes but by the student and general public. The reason for this is that betting often strikes at the heart of collegiate sports; that is, it offers amateur athletes a major temptation. Instead of playing for the love of the game, and playing to win, many players can be tempted to shave points or play to lose in order to receive a payout from a bookie. This is not a scare tactic used by the bodies trying to prevent the gambling; there are many cases where athletes have been caught shaving points. The resulting scandal can serve to ruin the lives of the athletes involved forever, but bookies are really only affected in the short term.
Despite a seeming desire to curb gambling in college sports, there seems to be little that either body can realistically do to stop it. The NCAA budgets very little of its operating money towards the program to stop gambling, while bills in Congress to close a loophole that allows betting in four states are often defeated in house. Add to this the fact that thousands of students will still bet whether the practice is legal or not, and it becomes obvious that betting on college sports and events such as March Madness will continue long into the future.