Senate Minority Leader Schumer Wants Federal Laws for Sports Betting
The Senate Minority Leader (D-NY) is just the latest in a line of Congress members to make suggestions for a federal framework for sports gambling.
In a memo sent to ESPN on Wednesday, Schumer made specific suggestions that he would like to see Congress approve, including that the sports leagues should have a say in what bets will be accepted, and that all sportsbooks should only use official league data to determine outcomes. Another suggestion was that leagues would have to increase monitoring, but he didn’t say anything about integrity fees that the sports leagues have been requesting.
More obvious suggestions for the framework include restricting sports gambling in all states to those 21 years of age and older; requiring those sportsbooks taking bets to perform responsible advertising by not aiming it at youth populations; properly disclosing the dangers of gambling; and reporting of suspicious activity and sharing other information among the sportsbooks, state regulators, and sports leagues in an effort to expose anything that will compromise the integrity of the sports.
In the statement, Schumer said:
“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.”
He went on to say:
“The stakes are too high — legal sports betting laws must be crafted and executed in a careful and thoughtful way. As state legislatures develop new legislation in the weeks and months ahead, I hope they will take these principles under considerations. I also support the efforts in the Congress to debate and develop bipartisan federal legislation that would adhere to these principles. The integrity of sports is too precious to not protect as best we can.”
Legal Sports Betting in the United States
Since 1992, sports gambling outside of a few grandfathered states was illegal. For the most part, only Nevada has offered legal sports betting since the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) was passed. In May of this year, the Supreme Court overturned PASPA, saying it was unconstitutional, effectively leaving it up to each state to pass legislation surrounding sports gambling until or unless Congress passes a federal framework.
So far, three states: New Jersey, Delaware, and Mississippi have legalized and launched sportsbooks since the SCOTUS decision. Other states are about to launch sports betting and still others are still working on legislation.
With Schumer’s suggestion that legal sportsbooks would have to use official data from the leagues, this could be a decent revenue stream for the leagues. Some stakeholders may be opposed to this with the potential for the leagues to form a monopoly. Official data isn’t necessarily required for the sanctity of bets.
The American Gaming Association (AGA) issued its own statement:
“The casino gaming industry shares Senator Schumer’s goal in preserving the integrity of sporting events and providing consumer protections. Federal oversight of sports betting was an abject failure for 26 years, only contributing to a thriving illegal market with no consumer protections and safeguards. New federal mandates are a nonstarter.
The casino industry is working with stakeholders to ensure the proper protections for consumers, and the integrity of bets and sporting contests are included in state policy, universally implemented any all operators in those states, and overseen by effective state and tribal gaming regulators.”
The sports leagues have already advocated what Schumer is suggesting: provide a federal framework so that each state can decide whether or not to offer sports betting, but will not be able to make their own legislation regarding the details.
The PGA Tour, MLB, and the NBA submitted a joint memo in which they said they support Schumer’s suggestions:
“As legalized sports betting spreads across the states, there is a need for consistent, nation-wide integrity standards to safeguard the sports millions of fans love. We strongly support the legislative framework outlined by Senator Schumer and we encourage Congress to adopt it.”
With only four full months left to the current session of Congress, and other priorities coming first, it’s not likely any type of federal sports betting bill will be pushed through this year.
Other Federal Sports Betting Legislation
Congressman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) introduced sports betting legislation in December 2017, and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has indicated he will introduce sports betting legislation in the next few weeks.
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