Weekly Column: The Best Laid Plans of Sports Betting

In his capacity as a Columnist for California Sports Lawyer®, Founder and Managing Attorney Jeremy Evans has written a column about the difficulties and solutions to activating sports betting legislation, regulations, and partnerships in American sports.        

You can read the full column below.


In the rush to do business and sign the deal, there are sometimes shortcomings on the specifics. Sports betting in the United States with the NCAA, universities, and professional sports leagues could quite possibly be described as rush to adopt dealmaking. While the excitement of business in states across America is promising, it does not come without issue. There are some ways that the NCAA, athletes, universities, and professional sports leagues can establish best practices to avoid impropriety.

First, as NCAA President Charlie Baker has advocated, ban legal prop betting for NCAA sports. Prop betting tends to leave vulnerable and less scrupulous people for taking advantage and getting taken advantage of in sports. A prop bet ban will have to be done by state law, individually, but having limitations on legal sports betting will provide further guidance and notice to all parties involved. It is a policy that similar to alcohol is best distributed in moderation and temperately.

Second, ban sports betting partnerships with NCAA and its university members. This would also extend to the athletes in both college and professional sports. There would even be an encouragement for retired athletes to refrain from endorsing such products particularly if still employed by the NCAA, university, team, or league. However, professional teams and leagues would be able to broker hotel deals with resorts as long as sports betting or casinos are not referenced in the advertising. The NCAA, universities, and college athletes would also be banned from brokering hotel endorsements or partnerships with casinos or sportsbooks attached to the specific property. The policy would not exclude the NCAA and universities from brokering hotel room block deals for tournaments, etc.

Third, antitrust enforcement to encourage more competition among the sportsbooks. The current betting licensee market has a high barrier to entry and is dominated by only two or three major companies. With news that ESPN Bet may be purchased by a competitor, the time is ripe for new competitors. Attracting more competitors can be accomplished through legislation in state legislatures that accounts for limitations and circumstances (like how many teams, new markets, how colleges, etc.) and streamlined processing, while rewarding good behavior.

Fourth, with television continuing to move towards streaming as a preferred watch option, while regional sports networks and blackouts of games are attracting scrutiny for antitrust violations, sports betting companies, professional leagues, and franchises would be wise to take a measured approach to adopting new business partners in an industry that is growing, but changing daily due to restrictions, uncertainty, and antitrust laws. This includes, but is not limited to setting the best practices for athletes and leagues prior to dealmaking so the rules speak louder than the money. This should also include a ban on sports betting partnerships appearing anywhere on the athlete by uniform or on the court or field.

Lastly, there needs to be an established arbitration, alternative dispute resolution, and/or litigation process for gambling disputes with athletes and teams to avoid the social media “gotcha” mentality in civil and criminal proceedings. The court of public opinion is better served with facts and process as opposed to feelings and memes. This means leagues and players should be under strict rules to respect the courts and processes prior to declaring guilt or innocence in public. Ultimately, we need a higher standard for all involved in dealmaking and litigating so that when things do and will go wrong, there is a clear process to follow that is understood and respected by all.   


About Jeremy M. Evans:

Jeremy M. Evans is the Chief Entrepreneur Officer, Founder & Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clients in contractual, intellectual property, and dealmaking matters. Evans is an award-winning attorney and industry leader based in Los Angeles and Newport Beach, California. He can be reached at Jeremy@CSLlegal.com. www.CSLlegal.com.  

Copyright © 2024.  California Sports Lawyer®.  All Rights Reserved.

Author image
Los Angeles and Newport Beach, California Website
Jeremy M. Evans is the CEO, Founder & Managing Attorney of California Sports Lawyer® representing entertainment, media, and sports clients and is licensed to practice law in California.