J.B. Bickerstaff’s sports betting revelation reflects the tenuous union of legalized sports betting.

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(ThyBlackMan.com) According to the American Gaming Association, legal betting on this year’s “March Madness” NCAA basketball tournaments is projected to reach approximately $2.7 billion. That large monetary figure combines both the wagers for the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments. One of the most “costly” NCAA Tournament results was Alabama Crimson Tide men’s basketball team defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball team in the Sweet 16. Prior to the upset loss days ago, the Tar Heels were the most-bet team against the spread among four-game slate of NCAA men’s basketball tournament games played on March 28th, garnering 83 percent of the tickets and 84 percent of the handle at BetMGM Sportsbook.

J.B. Bickerstaff’s sports betting revelation reflects the tenuous union of legalized sports betting.

Even former Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowl wide receiver Dez Bryant lost significant money betting on the Tar Heels for that Alabama game. Sadly, the athletes participating in the professional and collegiate sports that millions of people bet on can receive negative feedback due to sports betting. UNC star Armando Bacot’s great college career ended against Alabama and he received negative messages from bettors following his team’s loss. Bacot mentioned, “It’s definitely a little out of hand, but at the same time, I get the point of it, too. If you bet a lot of money on something, and you’re, like, one pick away, and somebody messes it up, I understand the part of fans being mad. But it’s annoying, too.”

Legalized sports betting has changed sports in major ways since the 2018 Supreme Court ruling that gave U.S. states the opportunity to legalize betting on sports within their respective states. Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff discussed during a press conference last month that he received threats from gamblers last season and reported it to the NBA. He said, “They got my telephone number and were sending me crazy messages about where I live and my kids and all that stuff, so it is a dangerous game and a fine line that we’re walking for sure.” The good news was that those who made the threats were located. Because large amounts of money can be wagered on the outcomes and performances of sporting events, it can lead to individuals doing things similar to what J.B. Bickerstaff experienced, which is troublesome.

Athletes can also become embroiled in sports betting controversies themselves. One of the faces of Major League Baseball, Los Angeles Dodgers hitter/pitcher Shohei Ohtani, finds himself in a strange situation involving his former interpreter and a potential bookmaker that threatens to be one of the stories of the 2024 MLB season. The NFL has suspended multiple players in recent years for gambling violations while the NBA is currently investigating current player Jontay Porter for multiple instances of betting irregularities. Sports leagues have found it very important to educate their athletes, coaches, and staff regarding the rules and punishments for sports betting to maintain the integrity of the game. It is critical that this education is constant to those participating in professional and collegiate sports and the punishments extremely harsh for potential violators to curtail any potentially major sports betting situations in the future.

Staff Writer; Mark Hines