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After months of speculations details regarding a new bill have leaked revealing plans for a sweeping reform to sports betting in the United States. If the bill passes, states would be required to have their sports betting laws approved by the country’s Attorney General and purchase official major league data. The latter seems to be a nod to the professional sports leagues which have been lobbying for integrity fees – the sports betting operators would be required to use only league-sanctioned data until at least 2023.
However, the bill which is being, championed by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch who has been a longtime opposer of gambling, is facing a number of significant obstacles due to opposition especially from the growing number of states that have either create their own sports betting regulations or are planning to.
The language in the draft bill seems to contradict the May 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that abolished PASPA and lifted the federal on sports betting thus allowing states to make their own sports betting regulation. To put this into perspective, the Supreme Court ruled that it had found the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) to be unconstitutional and decreed that states would be able to regulate their own gambling industries especially with regards to sports betting.
The bill not only gives the federal government the power to veto the sports betting laws and regulation that have been put in place by the state governments but also bans the residents of these states from wagering on amateur sporting events. Moreover, the bill will make amendments to the Wire Act and this will allow some elements of sports betting information to flow from one state to another.
In addition to these, the draft bill further calls for the formation of the National Sports Wagering Clearinghouse. This would be responsible for collecting anonymized sports betting data in real-time – this data will include such aspects as the amount and type of wagers, the dates and time when the bets, where the bets were placed as well as their outcomes. In essence, the proposed clearinghouse is meant to monitor unusual betting patterns and potential signs of corruption. The legislation further addresses concerns related to sports betting-related advertising as well as problem gambling, both of which have been very hard to deal with effectively.
So, could this bill pass? Well, the passing any bill is an uphill task mostly due to the country’s contemporary political environment but this particular bill’s biggest obstacle is the fact that it has not been received well by gambling stakeholders. Even the American Gaming Association is against it. In other words, the bill is unlikely to gain momentum, at least not for the upcoming 116th Congress that convenes in January.
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A Congressional hearing on legal sports betting in the United States has been scheduled for next week in the US capital despite massive pushback from gaming operators who believe that there is no need for a federal framework to be put in place.
The hearing which is scheduled for September 27 will involve discussion about the proliferation of legal sports betting across the country following the recent repeal of PASPA by the United States Supreme Court. Spearheading this move is the US House Committee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigation which aims to investigate the implication of the landmark Supreme Court ruling and what it would mean for the integrity of sporting activities “as well as what sorts of improper or illicit activities could arise”.
“My subcommittee will look at the implications of this SCOTUS ruling and talk about what it means for the integrity of sports as well as what sorts of improper or illicit activities could arise,” said subcommittee chairman Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.). “Ultimately, we want to determine whether or not a basic federal framework is necessary to guide states’ new gambling policies.”
Support from the Leagues
As is turns out, the September 27 hearing was scheduled about a month after Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, released some sports betting guidelines with the support of major US professional sports leagues.
“As legalized sports betting spreads across the states, there is a need for consistent, nationwide integrity standards to safeguard the sports millions of fans love,” the NBA, PGA Tour, and Major League Baseball said in a joint statement. “We strongly support the legislative framework outlined by Senator Schumer and we encourage Congress to adopt it.”
The leagues have often expressed concerns about how fast the states have fast-tracked sports betting regulation since the Supreme Court paved the way for legalized nationwide sports betting and therefore the introduction of a federal framework would mean that the league’s lobbyist will not have to argue out their cases with each and every state.
American Gaming Association (AGA) to Testify
The AGA’s senior vice president, Sara Slane is reportedly also set to give the association’s perspective on why states and the sovereign tribal nations are best positioned to regulate and oversee legal sports betting market. It is no secret the AGA has been a strong supporter of the abolishment of PASPA pointing out that is “an essential first step to shutting down illegal sports betting”
“Bringing sports betting activity into a transparent legal market, under state and tribal regulatory oversight, empowers law enforcement to tackle illegal gambling, provides essential consumer protection and better ensures bet and game integrity. It will also create new American jobs and generate additional local, state and federal tax revenue,” reads a statement from the AGA.