Penn State president pitches two-year delay on collegiate sports betting in Pennsylvania

FILE – In this Feb. 17, 2014, file photo, Eric Barron, after being unanimously voted in to serve as Penn State’s 18th president after Rodney Erickson’s retirement later that year, answers questions from reporters during a news conference in State College, Pa. The university’s board voted Friday, May 4, 2018, to extend Barron’s contract through 2022, giving Barron three more years at the helm of the university beyond the prior end of the contract in June 2019. (AP Photo/Ralph Wilson, File)

As Pennsylvania prepares to potentially legalize sports betting, Penn State President Eric Barron wants the state to hold off on allowing people to bet on college sports.

In a letter to the state gaming control board, Barron is proposing a two-year waiting period for college sports betting in the state. He said in the letter that the delay would help schools get ready for legalized sports betting and all the potential ramifications that could come with it.

From the Morning Call:

“Sources looking to influence or gain an unfair advantage in wagering on collegiate sporting events occurring in Pennsylvania will be overwhelmingly ‘local’ to Pennsylvania,” Barron wrote. “Limiting the ability of such local parties to place wagers on Pennsylvania college and university athletic events, at least during this two-year temporary period, will substantially reduce the likelihood of issues arising before our institutions can put into place the policies and procedures and educational programs to appropriately manage the risks associated with sports wagering on their athletic contests.”

Regarding the two-year trial delay, Barron called it necessary to educate staff and student-athletes and consider competitive advantages between teams from different states. Barron wrote that Act 42, the 2017 law that expanded gambling in Pennsylvania to include sports betting, did not address potential issues such as cheating or the public disclosure of student-athletes’ injuries.

It needs to be said that the illegality of sports betting hasn’t stopped people from betting on sports previously. If someone wanted to wager money, whether $1 or $1,000, on a game there were various ways to do it before the Supreme Court paved the way for states to legalize sports betting earlier this year. Dealing with sports betting shouldn’t be considered a “new” issue. It’s just a newly legal one.

Penn State, Pitt and other professional sports teams in the state are wanting to get a cut of any revenue that Pennsylvania would generate via legal betting. That’s not uncommon; many leagues and teams are looking for ways to safely monetize a potential flood of legal sports bets.

But the injury-reporting aspect is a significant one, especially for coaches who play it coy about injuries. Schools sometimes hide behind the excuse of privacy when it comes to reporting player injuries and if a significant player is banged-up and unlikely to play in a game it’s easy to see a line on a game shifting a point or two after the public revelation of the injury.

Of course, lines on games shift without the public disclosure of injuries; sports books have ways of figuring out that information. But it’s a lot more transparent, especially when something has been newly legalized, if there was a relatively standard process.

No timetable has been set for legalization of betting in Pennsylvania. The state’s gaming board meets again on July 18 and betting has already gotten the go-ahead in neighboring states New Jersey and Delaware.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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