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Will wagering on high school sports ever become legal?

True story: A police officer in the region pulled over a former assistant high school football coach driving through his town some years ago. They knew each other. The conversation was hardly confrontational.

Coach: "Hey, buddy, why did you pull me over?"

Officer: "You didn't do anything wrong. But I saw you driving and need to know whether you guys can cover Friday night."

And so this may jar the senses somewhat. But, yes, wagering on high school football used to take place here in our corner of the world. There was at least one local gin mill that put lines on all local games. I'm unaware of how much was bet or by whom, but I can say it did make for conversation.

Hence, today's query: With gambling's proliferation, will wagering on high school sports ever become legal? It doesn't feel like such a giant leap — practically, anyway — from the way DraftKings and FanDuel allow betting on any number of arcane endeavors to high school sports, whose popularity continues to rise.

Some offshore betting sites already take wagers on Texas high school football. But then, this is Texas. MaxPreps, a website that covers high school sports nationally, recently reported that three Texas high school football coaches — Lake Travis' Hank Carter, Carthage's Scott Surratt and Austin Westlake's Todd Dodge — all make at least $150,000 per year.

(I was thinking the other day that as his team nearly bumbled its way to a scoreless tie on Thanksgiving that Fitch coach Mike Ellis deserves a commensurate number).

So what does Vegas think of high school sports wagering?

"We don't take bets on any amateur events outside of college events, and that would include high school sports. I don't see the need," Jay Kornegay, vice president of race and sports operations for the Westgate Las Vegas Sportsbook, told USA Today recently. "You would have to first change the regulations in the state of Nevada, because they don't allow those wagers to be placed. I don't think anyone is going to pursue it. We have plenty of events at the collegiate and pro level.

"We know high school football is really big in the South and other areas of the country, but I don't see any need to set lines on those games."

Of bigger concern, officials in many states with legalized gambling said, were how gambling could affect the integrity of the games. Athletes, coaches of officials, with a chance at some easy money, might be vulnerable to behaviors that could affect the outcome of games with, as USA Today reported, "no mechanized controls to prevent tampering with a result."

I don't believe you'll ever see legalized gambling on high school sports. We still have some scruples left as a society, even if most of them are swirling the bowl. But if it ever did happen, we'd sit back and enjoy the number of businesses who would rationalize their way to making money off it.

Here are this week's pro and college best bets from The Day's sports staff:

Ned Griffen: UConn (+32 at home vs. Houston). "Still hell bent on hitting on the biggest spread of the week and we're going to pick against the local college of my family's birthplace to do it. Don't tell my relatives."

Dave Davis: (Rams +1 at Packers). "The Rams are coming off a bye week and two straight losses, including getting drilled by the Niners. But this team is too talented to keep losing. So, why not?"

Chuck Banning: Rutgers (+1 at home vs. Maryland). "If you've been paying attention (and I'm sure you have been), both teams are 5-6, so winner of this game goes to a bowl game. Why not Rutgers ... especially playing at home."

Vickie Fulkerson: Eagles (-3.5 at Giants). "The Giants fired Jason Garrett as their offensive coordinator this week (I like Jason Garrett!!), suggesting issues in the ranks. Giants also have a short week after playing Monday. Not enough time to fix said issues."

Gavin Keefe: Boston College (+4.5 at home vs. Wake Forest): "Give the Eagles a shot because they're playing at home and not facing Rhode Island. Just ask the BC basketball about URI."

Mikey D: Rams (+1 at Packers). Before we tackle Rams/Packers, I don't understand why these people take such mean, rotten shots at BC and the Giants. We are fine, upstanding citizens just trying to find our place in a mean world.

OK. On to the Rams. This line stinks. Think about it: The Rams have been non-competitive for two straight games and head to play St. Aaron of Rodgers on the road. Now this warm weather team goes on the road to chilly Green Bay (game day weather: high near 36. West northwest wind 11 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph. Temperatures in the high 20s by game's end.)

Common sense says the Rams should be a bigger underdog. But they're not. Somebody knows something. Bet the Rams with both hands.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro


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