Legal Betting On High School Sports? LOL, OMG, NO!

Posted By Grant Lucas on June 1, 2018

Oh, Jay Kornegay. You had the chance to slam the door on an absurd proposition. And instead you answered as if you were grocery shopping with your 6-year-old son and he asked for a Costco-sized crate of Fruit by the Foot.

Maybe you were taken by surprise.

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act to clear the path for legalized sports betting across the nation. The focus has been on developing regulatory frameworks in states that are moving forward with legislation, such as:

  • The taxation of casinos that will offer sports betting
  • Paying the laughable “integrity fees” to professional leagues

Certainly betting on high school sports was never a thought for sportsbooks and oddsmakers.

That is, until Kornegay was knee-buckled by a curveball.

Will people soon be able to bet on high school sports?

The answer should have been simple: “LOL, OMG, NO! *cackling emoji*” However, Kornegay, vice president of race and sports operations for the Westgate Las Vegas Sportsbook, took … um … let’s call it a different approach.

“We don’t take bets on any amateur events outside of college events, and that would include high school sports,” Kornegay said.

That’s right. Stand your ground, Kornegay. Tell your son that 1,200 packs of Fruit by the Foot is ridiculous and unwarranted. Strike him down, don’t leave the door open for anything.

Unfortunately, Kornegay was not done, adding: “I don’t see the need.”

COME ON, J-KORN! You basically just asked your 6-year-old to provide an argument for that box of fruit snacks large enough to imprison Hannibal Lecter. Here, let me be your Hooked on Phonics and give you a read on the situation.

Should there be betting offered on prep sports?

There is no need for wagering on high school athletics. Hence why Kornegay didn’t “see” the need.

While other states are rushing to pass legislation to regulate sports betting, Nevada entered Friday as the only state that allows single-game sports betting. And even the Silver State has gaming laws that specifically prohibit sportsbooks from offering wagers on prep sports. Nevada has the industry template that 19 other states that at least have a draft of a bill have used as they shape their own gaming regulations.

Certainly some people have expressed concern over the decision of SCOTUS to allow for states to legalize sports betting. They fear gambling addictions, for example. A recent poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University showed that some were even worried it would open the door for increased organized crime.

Still, there is some overreaction – and overreaching.

“I am concerned with this court decision and where it may lead,” Bob Gardner, executive director of the National Federation of High School Associations, said in a statement. “Our past contains instances of wagering on high school games illegally. If that now becomes legal, does the pressure on our coaches and student-athletes grow? Maintaining the integrity of all sports is critical to the system at every level. If we think the high schools are immune to this, we are not seeing clearly. We ask that states do not include wagering on high school athletic contests in any sport as part of any legislation going forward.”

Even Bill Bradley, a two-time NBA champion with the New York Knicks (yes, they were once really good) and former New Jersey senator, is fretting. Though he may be a tad biased. After all, the federal ban ruled unconstitutional by SCOTUS is also known as the Bradley Act.

“I think the game will be corrupted,” Bradley said. “Do you really want to go to your son’s high school basketball or football game and see people in the crowd who are betting, who are not rooting for your child to win or lose, but are betting on a spread? It’ll be pervasive. It is destructive. But again, it’s the Supreme Court making a decision on very narrow grounds.”

Listen in: TheLines Podcast also hit on the topic of high school sports betting.

Purity of youth sports will prevail

Everyone take a deep breath. Find your zen. This is not happening any time soon – if at all.

Yes, there are offshore books that accept bets on Texas high school football games. But by no means is that is not a foundation from which to build an industry. So take it easy. Talking to you, USA TODAY High School Sports:

“(If) those lines are used by local illegal bookies to take wagers on high school games, why shouldn’t states allow official betting houses accept them and thereby implement some measure of discipline and regulation? There might even be a revenue share to be had for the state governing bodies (and potentially schools themselves via the state organizations).”

Nope. Oh, how quickly states would hang up the phone if this proposal came calling, like Spurs coach Gregg Popovich in a postgame interview.

Of course, there is already some corruption in youth sports, what with sneaker companies steering AAU basketball players toward certain colleges and agencies. But it’s still youth sports. If ever there was an organization that ACTUALLY cares about protecting the integrity of sports, it’s each state’s high school athletic association.

You fear gambling addiction because the public will soon be able to bet on professional and collegiate sports? Allow wagering on high school sports, which will never happen. Because state lawmakers and sportsbooks already know the dystopian outcome.

So, Jay Kornegay, let’s give you a mulligan: Will people soon be able to wager on high school sports?

“LOL, OMG, NO! *cackling emoji*”

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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sports writer who has covered the high school, collegiate and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield and Oregon State athletics, the Portland Trail Blazers and golf.

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