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Archive for Wednesday, July 20, 2005

NCAA to keep eye on betting lines

Significant changes in point spreads to be scrutinized

July 20, 2005

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— The NCAA plans to begin more closely monitoring betting lines on games and to start background checks on baseball and hockey officials as part of its antigambling efforts.

The moves are being made after an NCAA study last year found that 35 percent of male athletes and 10 percent of female athletes had gambled on college sports during the previous year.

One response from an NCAA task force on gambling would have the organization start checking in regularly with a longtime antagonist - the Las Vegas sports books.

Rachel Newman-Baker, the NCAA's director of gambling activities, said Tuesday the group hoped to re-establish contact with the oddsmakers to watch for instances where heavy wagering had caused significant changes in point spreads or for the casinos to pull games off the board.

The steps were presented to the NCAA's management council during its meeting this week near Los Angeles. The NCAA has not yet decided how it will communicate with the sports books, but might do so directly or through Nevada casino regulators, Newman-Baker said.

"We want to know more about what is going on in Las Vegas," she said. "We just want to be more in the know."

Such an exchange would be welcomed by many in the Las Vegas gambling industry, said Robert Walker, sports book director at the MGM Mirage casinos.

While Walker said the casinos often had felt targeted by the NCAA in its battle against gambling, the oddsmakers shared its concern for a fair game.

"It is imperative that the public knows that they have a 50-50 chance of winning and that both teams are trying," Walker said. "Otherwise, it is WWF wrestling out there."

Other antigambling steps planned by the NCAA include a new Web site and other efforts to educate athletes about the rules against gambling and adding background checks for hockey referees and baseball umpires who work during Division One tournaments.

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