Now that sports gambling is spreading, is it time to pay college athletes?

The NCAA has relented on its longstanding opposition to allowing tournaments in states where sports gambling is allowed; not that it had much of a choice following this week’s Supreme Court decision striking down laws against sports bookmaking anywhere but Vegas.

That might be bad news for Vegas — why go to Las Vegas when you can make a bet from Fridley? — but now the convention capital of the country can host the NCAA tournaments.

Can paying athletes be far behind?

The NCAA is concerned that having athletes and gamblers mix is a bad idea. The student athletes are forced to live in relative poverty while the NCAA and its schools get rich. Maybe this will be what was needed to eliminate the system of indentured servitude.

If not, there’ll be plenty of nearby money to throw games. The NCAA seemed to acknowledge that today when it announced it will allow gaming venues to host championships.

“Our highest priorities in any conversation about sports wagering are maintaining the integrity of competition and student-athlete well-being,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. “Sports wagering can adversely impact student-athletes and undermine the games they play. We are committed to ensuring that laws and regulations promote a safe and fair environment for the nearly half a million students who play college athletics.”

The NCAA is calling on the federal government — not states — to regulate the new sports gambling landscape.

Two months ago, Emmert flat-out dismissed any talk of paying players. But that was before the Supreme Court ruling.

Where would the money come from to pay athletes? How about the “integrity fee” that the NBA is proposing, which is intended to give the league and players a cut of the action?

Related: Whites oppose — and blacks support — paying NCAA athletes, especially when they’re thinking about race (Washington Post)

(h/t: Paul Tosto)