As Illinois Legislature decides whether to repeal a section of the law that bans wagering on in-state college teams, two NCAA-member institutions within the state and their partners are taking steps to improve gambling education for campus athletic workers. The number of colleges/universities utilizing the same program is growing.
The Entain Foundation and EPIC Risk Management launched the program, building on the work they’re already doing at Eastern Illinois and Northern Illinois universities. The expanded initiative will include the entire athletic conference that the latter of those two is part of.
Why gambling education is a need for campus athletic workers
For college athletes, the awareness about sports betting — in regulated and unregulated markets — can be minimal until it becomes a problem. Many campus athletic workers’ first introduction to gambling can involve abusive contacts on social media platforms.
This program can give players tools to deal with those instances. However, the need for education on this topic is much broader. Campus athletic workers should understand how sharing information that isn’t available to the general public can become a problem.
Because they’re privy to that information, they can become targets of people seeking out an edge. That’s especially true in unregulated markets. People who use illegal bookies are more likely to resort to match-fixing schemes.
Additionally, being a college athlete doesn’t make one immune to developing compulsive gambling issues. Like everyone else, college athletes deserve information about how to recognize those issues and ways to obtain aid.
Entain, EPIC expand existing program
The more widespread the awareness about these issues is, the better. The program has now enlisted the entire Mid-American Conference, which includes Northern Illinois. In addition, Fordham University and Monmouth College will now engage.
“Fordham Athletics is excited to engage with EPIC Risk Management to educate our student-athletes around the dangers of problematic gambling and the ever-growing risk that sports betting brings to both student-athletes and institutions,” said Shannon Raymond, Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance at Fordham. “As part of our overall student development and wellbeing program, we see this as an extremely beneficial collaboration and are committed to ensuring our student-athletes learn from EPIC’s expertise to better understand how student-athletes can be susceptible to gambling harm. We look forward to learning how we can best support our student-athletes in this area with a long and successful partnership with EPIC.”
EIU and NIU were part of an initial group of 10 colleges and universities around the country. All but one of those, the University of Utah, are in states with legal sportsbooks. Entain and EPIC have similar partnerships with the NFLPA and USA Rugby.
Raising awareness can only make the experience of being an athlete better at an institution like those listed here. Hopefully, more colleges and universities will join this group as time passes.