LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas State Police today announced the arrest of 839 individuals for allegedly engaging in illegal gambling. The statewide sting operation, which included officers from the state police and several local jurisdictions, specifically targeted those who wagered on the outcomes of NIT tournament brackets.
“State law does not allow games of chance,” said state police spokesman Richard Grinder. “By definition, betting money on the outcomes of an NIT tournament bracket with so many no-name teams is pure chance.”
Iona, Utah Valley, and High Point were among several teams Grinder said made NIT wagering so foolhardy.
“I don’t even know what FGCU stands for,” Grinder said. “All I know is they are an 8-seed.”
Betting on college sports is illegal in 49 states, including Arkansas. Only Nevada allows wagering on athletics.
According to Grinder, nearly all the wagers in question were placed in “off the books” office pools. The average wager was five dollars.
Operation Nitwit netted arrests in nearly all of Arkansas’ 75 counties. The cities of Little Rock, Fayetteville, Ft. Smith and Conway each saw several dozen people apprehended and booked.
In Arkansas, gambling carries a possible sentence of 10 years in state prison and a $25,000.00 fine.
The Arkansas Razorbacks face the Golden Bears of California in Round 2 of the NIT Tournament on Monday, March 24. Curiously only 2% of the illegal NIT brackets pick the Razorbacks to win that game.