As March loomed, Maryland told sportsbooks to stop offering bets on NCAA players’ individual performances

As the NCAA basketball tournaments loomed, Maryland told betting operators to stop offering wagers on players’ individual performances, according to the state’s gambling regulatory agency.

“The decision was made to discontinue these wagers to protect college athletes against potential harassment,” Seth Elkin, a spokesman for the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, said in an interview on Friday. “The intent is to focus college sports wagers on the teams rather than the individual athletes.”

The directive, emailed to operators on Feb. 26, advised that beginning March 1, Maryland “will prohibit all sports wagering licensees operating in Maryland from accepting player prop bets on college sports. This includes sports governed by the NCAA, the NAIA and any other college sports governing bodies.”

Proposition bets, or “props,” are placed on occurrences — such as a players’ statistics — other than the final score.

The email, obtained via a public records request, added: “For example, bettors will no longer be able to wager on markets such as a college quarterback’s passing yards or a college basketball player’s points.”

The order also eliminated dozens of similar wagers, including which player will score the first basket or collect the most rebounds.

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament, one of the nation’s most popular events for sports bettors, began March 19 with the “First Four” play-in games in Dayton, Ohio.

The restrictions apply to men’s and women’s college players but not to athletes in professional leagues. The women’s NCAA basketball tournament started with play-in games on Wednesday.

Maryland became the 12th state to ban college player prop wagers. According to the gaming agency, the other 11 are Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Virginia.

Maryland has 13 retail sports betting locations and 11 mobile operators.

The gaming agency has authority over what sorts of wagers are permitted in the state.

Maryland casinos began accepting sports wagers at their properties in December 2021. Mobile betting — on computers, phones or other smart devices — began operating in Maryland the day before Thanksgiving in 2022.