AGA Fires Back at Schumer: Legal Sports Betting Doesn’t Need the Feds
The American Gaming Association recently sent a strongly worded letter to Senator Chuck Schumer, effectively telling him that the AGA has sports betting handled and there’s no need for any federal sports betting legislation. Over the weekend, the letter was picked up by the mainstream media and brought to the forefront of the general public as this battle between the sports betting industry and Schumer is quickly heating up.
The six-page letter was signed by Sara Slane, the senior VP of Public Affairs for the AGA. In it, she provides the argument for the AGA’s position on Senator Schumer’s proposed federal plan. The letter explains that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) as being unconstitutional was the most important first step to taking on the illegal sports betting market.
“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.”
The letter details five principles
“that will ensure a safe, successful, legal sports betting market.”
The AGA strongly feels that proper management of the legal sports betting industry will generate much-needed tax revenues, create much-needed jobs, and will pull consumers from black market sports betting operators to legal sports betting operators. To do this, five essential areas must remain in focus:
- Promote responsible gaming and responsible advertising.
- Discourage enacting legislative preferences for specific business interest.
- Protect game integrity.
- Place consumers first.
- Empower state and tribal regulation.
Slane went on to say that federal oversight is unneeded and unwanted:
“Replacing an already proven regulatory regime with a non-existent and untested federal oversight apparatus would be out of step with 7 in 10 Americans who think this decision should be left to each state and tribe.”
Supporters of Federal Legislation
Both Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Chuck Schumer (D-New York) want to federally legislate sports betting. There are not many key differences between their philosophies. Once the major sports leagues realized that states were not going to entertain the possibility of paying integrity fees in sports betting legislation, those pro sports leagues went to the national level with their lobbying efforts. In response, Hatch said at the end of August, when he promised to introduce legislation within the coming weeks,
“Parts of the legislation I will be proposing are improvements in monitoring and enforcement that will benefit all stakeholders, sportsbooks, regulators, governing bodies and consumers.”
Now, that doesn’t seem too biased towards the pro sports leagues, but they’re definitely listed within the “stakeholders” comment.
On the other side of the aisle, Schumer seems more interested in catering to the sports leagues. He says that sportsbooks should use official league data, supplied by the leagues, to determine outcomes, and wants to give power to the leagues to decide what bets should be accepted. While he doesn’t actually suggest an integrity fee, he is very concerned with the subject of integrity:
“As a New York sports fan – especially my Yankees and Giants – and a senator, my priority in the wake of the Murphy v. NCAA decision is making sure the integrity of the games we love is preserved, that young people and those suffering from gambling addiction are not taken advantage of, and that consumers that choose to engage in sports betting are appropriately protected.”
With the Supreme Court’s ruling, it’s incumbent on the federal government to take a leadership role and provide the necessary guidance to prevent uncertainty and confusion for the leagues, state governments, consumers and fans alike.”
Likelihood of Federal Legislation
It’s not likely that any federal legislation will be passed in the near future. Even if a federal mandate gathers the support of the professional sports leagues and a few senators, once one takes the political landscape into consideration, it will become clear that a federal framework is not very plausible, for two major reasons:
- Midterm election season is coming up and the first priority of both parties will be fighting for control of Congress.
- The American sports betting market isn’t waiting around. Already four states have legalized and launched sports betting in addition to Nevada: Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, and West Virginia. Furthermore, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island have passed legislation and will likely launch sports betting before the end of the year. A few other states, like New York, Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky will probably get to work legalizing sports betting once the legislatures start the fall sessions or by the beginning of 2019 at the latest.
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