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Kentucky Regulators Still Not Moving Off College Player Prop Wagering

Dane Key Kentucky Wildcats v Tennessee Volunteers
Dane Key #6 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates after a touchdown at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. Michael Hickey/Getty Images/AFP

The recent trend towards banning college player props has not taken hold in Kentucky, at least not yet, and the status quo appears likely to remain when the college football and basketball seasons return in the Bluegrass State.

Under Review

Charlie Baker has undertaken a crusade to ban college player prop betting throughout the nation. However, unlike the power he wielded as governor of Massachusetts, his status as NCAA commissioner gives him no authority to tell state regulatory agencies what to do or how to do it. All he can do is share his thoughts on the topic and urge them to follow suit.

Kentucky is one such market that has a robust sports betting market replete with college player prop betting. According to the state’s regulatory body, the Kentucky Horse Racing and Gaming Corporation (KHRGC), the matter remains open despite Baker’s March 29th letter to Kentucky’s regulatory board.

NCAA Commissioner Baker wrote, “We appreciate your attention to this matter and know you are dedicated to a responsibly regulated marketplace in Kentucky. Thank you for the opportunity to request a prohibition on player-specific prop bets and related markets. We welcome the opportunity to explore these preventative measures with you and your team soon.”

After a meeting last week, the topic was not discussed despite the plea from Baker imploring the state to reconsider its stance on college player props. According to Travers Manley, interim general counsel for the KHRGC, “The request remains under review. There is not a specific date by which the KHRGC will issue a decision.”

Although some states have heeded Baker’s advice and eliminated college player prop betting, there are still 20 markets in the nation that allow it as it generates more betting activity and ultimately more taxable income. However, states like Massachusetts passed sports betting legislation with college player prop betting expressly prohibited from the onset.

What’s the Problem?

Some collegiate athletes have reported harassment from disgruntled bettors based on their individual performances. College player prop betting, unlike college prop betting, focuses on one athlete where the bettor can bet over or under a set number of rebounds, points, or assists in basketball but it could also be touchdown passes, passing yards, rushing yards, or receiving yards in football on a particular player.

In addition to harassment, the fear many have is that athletes may be lured into accepting bribes in exchange for underperforming signaling to bettors who are “in the know” to wager on under that athlete’s player proposition offerings and thus affecting the integrity of that game and the sport in general.

College athletes do not get paid directly by the schools and are therefore easier targets than professional athletes who are paid millions of dollars and are therefore not a viable resource to bad actors. Baker’s March 29th letter to Kentucky’s governing body at the time, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission that has since morphed into the Kentucky Horse Racing and Gaming Corporation, also said the following:

“Player prop bets attach an individual student-athlete’s name to a bet and therefore increase the likelihood of betting harassment being targeted toward them,” Baker wrote. “Recent media reports of harassment and threats directed at members of the Kentucky basketball team highlight the vitriol that is allowed on social media platforms, and the NCAA sees the same vitriol from bettors.”

Whether Kentucky will follow suit and eliminate college player prop betting like Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia have done is unknown but right now nothing has changed in the Bluegrass State and college player props will be on its gambling menus this fall.

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