U.S. SPORTS BETTING RESTRICTIONS FOR REVIEW BY CONGRESS?
Did the American Gaming Association’s campaign influence the decision to take another look at the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act?
The American Gaming Association’s support for a more liberalized sports betting environment in the United States has been increasingly evident this year, and it could have been influential in persuading Congress to take another look at the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.
PASPA, as it is widely known, restricts legal sports betting to just four US states and is a cause for concern as sports betting continues to generate billions of dollars across the States , with most of that mopped up by illegal operators despite the best efforts of law enforcement.
The American Gaming Association estimates $149 billion is bet illegally on sports in the U.S, mostly with unregulated offshore sportsbooks and local bookmakers. That has cost state governments uncounted millions in potential tax revenues, and frustrated punters almost everywhere.
Its a situation that has led to New Jersey becoming expensively engaged in long-running and so far unsuccessful litigation which continues to this day as the Garden States tries to throw off its PASPA shackles and take advantage of massive player demand.
So far, the national sports leagues have managed to block its ambitions.
Now the publication ESPN has reported that the 24-year-old prohibition is to be reviewed by Congress, which could also introduce comprehensive legalization that may address daily fantasy sports and other forms of gaming.
In a statement to ESPN, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. from New Jersey described current federal gambling laws as "obsolete" and "in desperate need of updating," but he did not provide a timetable for such an intervention.
He did say, however, that communication with stakeholders is already underway.
"The laws need a wholesale review to see how they can actually work together and create a fairer playing field for all types of gambling, both online and offline, including sports betting and daily fantasy sports," said Pallone, who serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
"At the same time, we must ensure the laws are actually creating an environment of integrity and accountability, and include strong consumer protections. I plan to continue discussions with the key stakeholders and then will introduce comprehensive legalization to finally update these outdated laws."
ESPN notes that three statutes are key to the liberalization of sports betting: PASPA, the Federal Wire Act of 1961 and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.
Pallone will find politicians from a number of states keen to redress the currently unfair and aggravating legal position, but the more conservative state governments will have to be considered, and any legislative changes would be wise to give individual states the choice to opt out to avoid "states rights" confrontations.
Politicians may also encounter opposition from at least some of the national sports leagues, despite their increasing embrace of fantasy sports and eSport betting; ESPN reports that as recently as last week NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said at an owners meeting that the league remains "very much opposed to legalized gambling on sports."
The AGA will be maintaining its pressure for change in 2017, according to CEO Geoff Freeman, who told ESPN:
"The next [U.S.] president is going to have that issue of legalizing sports betting on their desk."