Sports betting is now legal in Indiana with the state’s first retail sportsbooks opening on September 1st. Unlike some states that have legalized sports betting, Indiana does not prohibit wagers on in-state college teams.
State law already prohibits athletes, coaches and other staff associated with sports organizations from placing wagers on events governed by their organizations, but Purdue University is set to take those restrictions one step further on its own.
According to a post published on the Purdue website, the Purdue Board of Trustees will hold a meeting on October 10th to consider a policy prohibiting all university employees from wagering on all Boilermakers games. This restriction will reportedly cover all full-time, part time and temporary employees.
Purdue University President Mitch Daniels issued a short statement explaining the motivation behind the proposal:
“Our goal and that of our Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is to operate with the greatest of integrity and sportsmanship. In that spirit and out of respect for our student-athletes and coaches, we believe this is the right action to take to reduce the potential for any student-athlete to feel compromised, for any implication of profiteering or inside information, or other problems.”
Purdue University also notes it will consider extending the restriction even to non-athlete students.
We should emphasize that the university is not considering a blanket ban on all wagering among employees and students; the prohibition being considered now would only prohibit wagers on Purdue teams and players.
What the Law Currently Says About Restricted Persons
Current restrictions on people who may wager on sports in Indiana are covered by IC § 4-38-9-3.
The Indiana sports betting law prohibits operators from accepting wagers from:
- Anyone under 21 years of age
- Employees of sportsbook operators or service providers and any of their family members who live in the same household
- Groups or organizations – all wagers must be placed by individuals
- People connected to sports leagues (athletes, coaches, members of governing bodies, etc.) prohibited from betting on events governed by their own organization
- Anyone convicted of a state or federal crime related to sports wagering
The portion of the law dealing members of sports organizations reads as follows:
With respect to a sporting event sponsored, organized, or conducted by a particular sports governing body, any of the following [may not place wagers on that sport]:
- An employee of the sports governing body
- A game official employed by or under contract with the sports governing body
- A coach, manager, or other personnel employed by or under contract with a member club of the sports governing body.
- An athlete who is: (i) under contract with a member club of the sports governing body in the case of a team sport; or (ii) eligible to participate in events conducted by the sports governing body in the case of an individual sport.
- An employee of a union representing athletes or game officials.
- A relative living in the same household of an individual described in clauses (A) through (E).
Regulations (pg. 27) adopted by the Indiana Gaming Commission add further restrictions prohibiting Commission members, employees, agents (and their spouses) from participating in sports wagering.
Indiana Colleges Closely Watching Sports Betting
Current restrictions on who may bet on sports in Indiana cover most of the key problem areas that could lead to conflicts of interest, but Indiana colleges have already noted they will be approaching sports betting with an enhanced sense of caution.
Local colleges expressed concern back in May after Governor Holcomb signed the sports betting bill into law. Officials from three Indiana universities noted at the time that they would be watching the development closely and taking steps to protect the integrity of their sports programs.
Here is what Indiana University athletic director Fred Glass said in May:
“We really found the measures we take are really robust. But we will continue to monitor that and be very aggressive about that, with the NCAA, the conference and at the institution level to try to make sure that we’ll continue to protect the integrity of our programs.”
And here’s Purdue Athletic Director Mike Bobinksi in discussing wagers such as player props and in-game betting:
“When you get into the potential for more exotic and sort of one-off type of wagering, I think you open yourself to lots more risk of manipulation and influence. That’s something that we were very concerned about and wanted to do our best to try and sort of maintain a normalized established structure.”
Butler University spokesman John Dedman told The Goshen News his school will continue to educate student athletes on the risks associated with sports betting in Indiana.
Although the concerns of university officials are valid, the legalization of sports betting may end up making their job a little easier by bringing the activity out of the black market and into the light of regulation.
After all, the University of Toledo sports betting scandal in neighboring Ohio occurred well before sports betting was legal anywhere outside of Nevada. In a regulated environment, suspicious wagers and betting patterns are much more likely to be detected and reported to authorities.