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Advice to Athletes on Sports Gambling

Don’t Bet On It
Advice to Athletes on Sports Gambling

11/05/06

Basketball players in shadow

You’re a college athlete…and you decide to place a bet on a professional or collegiate game. No big deal, right?

You couldn’t be more wrong, for two important reasons:

First, the NCAA—the National Collegiate Athletic Association—has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sports gambling by its athletes. Get caught betting on a game—even one you’re not playing in—and your career as a college athlete is over.

Second, betting opens the door to more serious involvement with organized crime…and could get you into even deeper trouble.

How does that happen? Consider the following:

  • Let’s say you’re a college basketball player and you start placing bets on your own games. Suddenly, you begin losing big. Now you owe the campus bookie several thousand dollars and can’t afford to pay up. (And by the way, that bookie may not be an actual mobster, but probably pays up the line to one.)
  • But you have something the bookie wants: access to inside information and the ability to change the outcome of a game. Both can be very lucrative for organized crime syndicates.
  • So you may be asked to play just a shade below your potential in an upcoming game that your team is favored to win. “They tell the athlete, ‘We don’t want your team to lose, just win by six instead of 12,’” says Supervisory Special Agent Jon Bunn, who works on organized crime issues in our Criminal Investigative Division. The mobsters then bet heavily against the point spread and make a lot of money.
  • So you’re off hook after the game, right? Not so fast. “Mobsters never consider it a one-time deal,” said Tom Metz, assistant chief of our Transnational Criminal Enterprises Section. “They will probably blackmail you to keep you participating in their schemes.” For example, instead of point shaving, you may be asked for information—such as who is injured or who may miss a game—that gives these crooks an edge on betting on the spread.

These dangers are exactly why agents around the nation make annual presentations to college athletes about the dangers of sports gambling. Agent Bunn, for example, talks with the final 16 men’s and women’s college basketball teams every year.

“Like it or not, if you are a student athlete you are vulnerable to outside influences just because of who you are,” said Agent Bunn. “It’s important to understand how just risky and dangerous betting on sports really is.”

So college athletes: please take our advice and don’t gamble with your future!

Link: FBI Sports Bribery Program