Saturday January 31,2015 : SENATOR CALLS FOR CHANGE TO U.S. SPORTS BETTING RESTRICTIONS
Sen. John McCain says politicians need to engage with the American public and hold hearings.
With sports betting fever reaching its peak with this weekend's Super Bowl game, the focus on America's restrictive USA sports betting laws has intensified, with influential Republican Senator John McCain calling for the changes necessary to respect public opinion.
Speaking in an interview on a ABC/ESPN podcast Friday, McCain recommended that Congress hold hearings on the present laws, which restrict sports betting to just four US states, with Nevada the main beneficiary.
McCain remains opposed to internet gambling, but says that he would be in favour of allowing states that already permit casino gambling to take sports bets as well, and that such an extension should additionally embrace tribal casino operators.
“We need a debate in Congress,” McCain said. “We need to have a talk with the American people and we need to probably have hearings in Congress on the whole issue so we can build consensus.”
The publication Review Journal reports that American Gaming Association data indicates that there are commercial or tribal casinos in 40 states, and gambling is prevalent in 48 states if lotteries are counted.
Only Utah and Hawaii have totally eschewed gambling in one form or another.
Earlier this week the AGA estimated that at least $3.8 billion will be wagered illegally on this year's Super Bowl…more than 38 times that bet legally.
The podcast also featured AGA chief exec Geoff Freeman, who opined that current restrictions on sports betting are clearly not working, but failed to voice a firm position for his Association.
“From a casino industry perspective, we’re not sure what the right solution is here," Freeman said. “This is a discussion we are having internally in this industry, and that’s a discussion that needs to happen.”
Currently the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act restricts sports betting to Nevada, Montana, Oregon and Delaware, with Nevada having the most leeway.
2014 statistics just released by the Nevada authorities show that revenue from sports wagers hit a record $227 million, growing 12 percent over the preceding year.
McCain is the latest high profile American to call for change on sports betting; one of the national sports leagues is ready to break ranks with the national NFL, NHL and NCAA sports leagues, which have strenuously opposed any expansion or changes to the PASPA.
National Basketball League commissioner Adam Silver continues to be widely quoted on his comments last year that sports betting should be more widely permitted.
“There is massive sports betting going on in this country. If it is going to go on, let’s make it transparent," Silver said.
Online gambling supporters should not take heart from McCain's comments, however. In the interview he was adamant that internet gambling should not be legalised.
“One of the problems I see with Internet gaming is the ability to distort the playing field so it can be harmful to individuals and lead to corruption in the sport,” he said on the podcast.