NCAA President Cautions Against Mixing Esports with Betting

NCAA President Mark Emmert outlined the dangerous of mingling competitive video gaming with esports, and introducing them to high-school and college students.

Esports and Betting Don’t Mingle Well, Mark Emmert Thinks

Late last week, NCAA President Mark Emmert talked about what a fully-legal sports betting industry allowing bets on college sports and esports would mean. Mr. Emmert expressed concern particularly about how educational institutions would handle the issue.

‘We have to lead with our values. That’s how we need to make decisions, whether it’s wagering, legal environments, esports, anything else that we do,’ Mr. Emmert commented cited by the Associated Press (AP).

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In his statement, he emphasized on the need to introduce a diverse group of specialists tasked with coaching as well as running the administrative end of things. Mr. Emmert was coming from the fact that esports wagering and competitive video gaming as a whole posed new challenges that required a new crop of experts to address them.

From NCAA to NACE: Marquette Pursues Esports

Mr. Emmert’s own concerns seemed prompted by the decision of major-conference school, Marquette, announcing that it is joining the esports fray by introducing its own varsity program. NCAA’s President struggled to provide concrete measures and outline the challenges ahead of the rise of esports and betting that stems thereof.

He also cited Title IX, which guarantees a balance between female and male athletes. According to Mr. Emmert, the industry was heavily dominated by men, although a recent research showed the percentage of female involved in esports edging towards 20%.

An Olympic Argument

Mr. Emmert proceeded to argue the nature of the games, explaining that they were too violent to really uphold any sports values:

We know that some of the content is really violent. We don’t particularly embrace games where the objective is to blow your opponent’s head off. We know there are serious concerns about health and wellness around those games.

The somewhat violent nature of most competitive video games has been a deciding factor in esports titles not making the Olympic cut. However, there have been a handful of examples where esports are already listed alongside regular athletic competitions, specifically at the 2019 Asian Games.

Meanwhile, Marquette remains firmly decided to pursue esports and its varsity program – from recruiting and training talented players to preparing the professionals of the future. cited nearly 6,000 job positions in esports for 2018, with the trend only likely to grow.

Mr. Emmert believes that the NCAA can influence the development of esports in colleges positively and also outline guidelines preparing future coaches and managers of such teams and programs. At the same time, he remains firmly against the idea of (e)sports betting, arguing that if the activity is approved, it ‘is going to have a dramatic impact on everything we do in college sports.’

Meanwhile, popular esports powerhouse Fnatic recently released an article, appealing to fellow organizations to clean esports betting. Multiple institutions – both involved in gambling and outside it have called for the elimination of illegal operators (referred to as offshore agencies in betting terms).

Extremely important mission of ours to eliminate the use of illegal gambling sites in esports. They only harm the community and enrich the illegitimate operators behind them. It's also often where match fixing $'s are washed. #belegit@ESIC_Official @esportsinsider

— Steven Salz (@StevenSalz) January 24, 2019

Esports betting seems to be gathering steam, though, with a handful of established agencies already carving a name for themselves. Unikrn, a gaming platform with an international footprint, recently obtained a license by the Isle of Man.

Luckbox, another blockchain-driven platform supported by Paul “Redeye” Chaloner, a famous esports personality, is also preparing for a launch in late march. Meanwhile, Rilvar phl63 and Betway have been sponsoring various esports competitions and teams.

For better or for worse, esports wagering is part of the industry.

Presently, the esports betting industry is regulated by the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC), but the organization’s resources are still stretched to address all potential issues.

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