Lawmakers consider lifting a ban on sports betting

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Lawmakers are considering lifting a ban on gambling on in-state colleges and universities but the University of Illinois’ athletic director isn’t on board.

Josh Whitman spoke to a house executive committee about this yesterday and says it’s about protecting the mental health and well-being of student athletes.

During a Zoom meeting with the committee, he said social media comments made in direct connection to gambling losses were abusive and threatening.

He says that if someone loses $100, $500 or even $1,000, the people betting may turn harsher.

“And by allowing people in our state to bet on our own student athletes, we’re only opening the door and inviting people to have those intense threatening abusive interactions with our student athletes,” said Josh Whitman, the athletic director for the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Those in favor of sports betting say that not allowing it reduces a “robust market.” They say that as a compromise, there should be a procedure in place for student-athletes who feel harassed or affected by a sports bet. A university could suspend someone’s ability to wager on that university’s team.

Whitman says he wants Illinois to remain at the forefront in protecting student athletes from negative interaction when it comes to sports gambling.

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