Testimony of Bill Saum of the NCAA

10 February 1998

Testimony of Bill Saum
Gambling and Agent Representative
National Collegiate Athletic Association
before the
Subcommittee on Crime
House Judiciary Committee

February 4, 1998

Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, I am pleased to appear before you today to express the National collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA) support for H.R. 2380, The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act of 1997.

My name is Bill Saum and I am the NCAA's Gambling and Agent Representative. The NCAA is a tax-exempt, unincorporated association of approximately 1,150 colleges, universities, conferences and related organizations devoted to the regulation and promotion of intercollegiate athletics for male and female student-athletes. I am the primary staff member responsible for coordinating a comprehensive program addressing gambling issues. my duties in this area include: developing educational materials and programs for NCAA member institutions and student-athletes on issues associated with sports wagering; conducting investigations related to violations of NCAA rules in this area; and fostering relationships with representatives of athletics governing bodies, professional sports leagues, local, state and federal governments, and gaming regulatory bodies in an effort to develop working partnerships on issues related to sports wagering.

Like many other sports organizations, the NCAA has a clear, direct policy regarding sports wagering. The NCAA opposes all forms of legal and illegal collegiate sports wagering because of its potential to undermine the integrity of sports contests while jeopardizing the welfare of the student-athlete and the intercollegiate athletics community. Wagering on intercollegiate athletics contests is inconsistent with the fundamental concept of amateurism and is contrary to the basic purposes and goals of sports competition, including: rounding out the collegiate academic experience; building integrity and discipline; and enhancing personal welfare and fitness. For its part, the NCAA membership has adopted specific legislation prohibiting athletics department staff members and student-athletes from engaging in sports wagering activities as they relate to intercollegiate or professional sporting events. These same rules apply to the NCAA national office staff.

Despite federal and state laws that prohibit wagering on professional and college sporting events in every state except Nevada, sports wagering remains a growing problem on college campuses and continues to impact intercollegiate sports programs. I have seen firsthand, the negative impact that sports wagering can have on the lives of college student-athletes. I have seen students, their families and institutions publicly humiliated. Students have been expelled from college; they have lost athletic scholarships worth thousands of dollars; and have jeopardized any hope of a professional athletics career. They incur indebtedness beyond their means to repay and are threatened with personal injury or in some cases have been injured in retaliation for lack of payment of a debt. Further, it is reasonable to believe that all book making activities, including campus student book operations can be traced back to organized crime. According to law enforcement officials, organized crime book operations fund other illegal activities such as loan sharking, prostitution, and narcotics trafficking. Although the student may not be aware of this connection, it is many times only one or two people removed from the campus operation.

You may be aware of the sports wagering and point-shaving scandals that occurred at Boston College and Arizona State University. These cases involved student-athletes: some of whom were subsequently suspended from their teams; others lost their athletic scholarships and two former student-athletes were even indicted and now face federal prison terms.

While there are no comprehensive studies available that analyze the prevalence of sports wagering on college campuses, the preliminary evidence reveals an alarming trend. A recent University of Cincinnati/NCAA-sponsored study randomly surveyed 2000 male student athletes in Division I basketball and football programs to assess the extent of NCAA rules violations. The survey disclosed that over 25 percent of the athletes reported gambling on college sporting events other than their own while in college. Four percent of the athletes admitted to wagering on games in which they had played. Three of the athletes admitted to changing the outcome of the game in which they played. In another study conducted by several university researchers, the data revealed that six to eight percent of college students -- a higher percentage than any other age group -- are probable pathological gamblers.

The media is beginning to recognize the magnitude of this problem. A December 10, 1997 episode of CBS Public Eye highlighted the widespread problem of sports wagering on college campuses. The segment aired footage from a college tavern on game day - just a few blocks from the university of Nebraska football stadium. A hidden camera revealed several student bookies utilizing celluar phones to accept bets on college games. According to a former bookie who appeared on the show, illegal sports wagering exists on nearly every college campus. This fact has been confirmed by numerous federal and state law enforcement officials and by independent information obtained by the NCAA.

With this disturbing evidence as a warning sign, the growth of Internet gambling is cause for significant concern among the nearly 1,000 NCAA colleges and universities across the United States. One danger of Internet gambling is that it provides college students with the opportunity to place wagers on professional and college sporting events from the privacy of his or her campus residence. Internet gambling offers the student virtual anonymity, all he or she needs is a credit card or a simple wire transfer from a bank checking or savings account to place a sports wager over the Internet. Accessibility to the Internet is perhaps the greatest reason for concern. Many college students have unlimited use of the Internet and most residence halls are already wired for Internet access. In fact, there may be no group in this country who has more readily available access to computers and the Internet than college students. For the NCAA, the potential exists for a student-athlete to place a wager via the Internet and then attempt to influence the outcome of the contest while participating on the court or playing field.

Although Internet gambling is a relatively new phenomenon, every indication is that is reaching a large market. The rapid growth of Internet gambling was outlined in a recent Sports Illustrated cover story entitled " Cyber Gambling: Should it be stopped? Can it be stopped?" The story reports that analysts predict " explosive growth" in the Internet gambling industry. According to Sports Illustrated, " What was a $60 million business in 1996 will handle $600 million in bets in 1998, with another tenfold increase likely by 2001." Furthermore, the number of on-line sites that handle sports bets has grown from two in 1996 to at least 60-70 today.

H.R. 2380 is a vital piece of legislation. Congress has long recognized that gambling has no place in professional and amateur sports. It is a federal crime, under Section 1084 of Title 18, to use wire communication facilities in interstate or foreign commerce for purposes of sports gambling (except where such gambling is legal at both the transmitting and receiving ends). Furthermore, by enacting the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, Congress took the important step of prohibiting any further legalization of sports betting by states or other governmental entities.

Although Internet sports gambling is clearly prohibited under Title 18, H.R. 2380 would strengthen the tools available to enforce the prohibition. This legislation would make it more difficult for Internet gambling operations, as well as the individuals who gamble on them, to evade enforcement. Perhaps more importantly, it would provide civil remedies that allow law enforcement officials to require Internet service providers to block access or discontinue service to gambling sites. without this mechanism, law enforcement is left only with the difficult task of seeking criminal prosecution against gambling site operators, most of whom are located outside the United States.

No one would deny that there are an unlimited number of positive uses of the Internet. However, Internet gambling is not one of them. Congress has ensured through legislation that, with only a few exceptions, it is illegal to wager on sporting events in this country. Surely, Congress did not intend to make exceptions for those trying to skirt existing federal and state laws through the use of a new communications medium.

The NCAA has also strongly supported S. 474, a similar bill prohibiting Internet gambling introduced last year in the Senate by Senator Jon Kyl. We have worked closely with Senator Kyl and his staff on making refinements to his original bill and would be pleased to work with the House committee in a similar capacity. We strongly endorse H.R. 2380 and urge members of this Subcommittee to move quickly in passing this important legislation.

Thank you.

William (Bill) S. Saum

Bill Saum began his career at the NCAA in April 1988 and was named the NCAA's agent and gambling representative in September 1996. For the previous eight years, Bill had served as an enforcement representative investigating NCAA member institutions for rules violations. Prior to his arrival at the NCAA, Bill was an assistant football coach and assistant dean of students at Defiance College in Defiance, Ohio from 1986-1988; a history teacher and assistant football and track coach at Rittman High School from 1984-1986; an assistant football coach and head track coach at Heidelberg College from 1982-1984; and a graduate assistant football coach from 1981-1982 at Bowling Green State University. Bill received his undergraduate degree in education from the University of Dayton in 1981 - cum laude, and a masters degree in sports administration from Bowling Green State University in 1985.

The NCAA is a private, nonprofit Association that receives no federal funds.

Other testimonies:

  • Testimony of Sue Schneider from the Interactive Gaming Council and Rolling Good Times

  • Testimony of Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., President & CEO of the American Gaming Association

  • Testimony of Doug Donn, from the American Horse Council

  • Testimony of Frank Miller, former state gaming regulator

  • Testimony of Bill Saum, of the NCAA

  • Testimony of Bernard P. Horn, from the National Coalition Against Gambling Expansion

  • While the Coeur d'Alene tribe was not able to testify at the House hearings,they did submit a written testimony.