Sports Betting Event Hosted by American Gaming Association Takes Legality Discussion to Capitol Hill

on April 21, 2016
sports betting American Gaming Association

The American Gaming Association estimates US citizens wagered $9.2 billion on March Madness last month, and called for the end of sports betting prohibition during an event this week in Washington, DC. (Image: Associated Press)

Sports betting has been banned in the United States since the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was passed and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1992.

For nearly 25 years, billions upon billions of dollars in sports betting revenues have moved offshore and provided no societal benefit to either the federal government or individual state jurisdictions with Nevada being the lone exception.

On Wednesday, gaming experts gathered on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, to attend “The World of Sports Betting and Safeguarding Sports Integrity,” an event hosted by the American Gaming Association (AGA) and Genius Sports Group.

The one-day conference brought together members of the casino industry, security analysts, law enforcement personnel, and league representatives to discuss the longstanding federal PASPA law.

“As sports betting explodes in popularity, this mission is growing even more important,” AGA President Geoff Freeman said in his remarks. “The 25-year-old ban has failed to achieve its objectives. Instead of curbing sports betting, it’s just driven it underground, with trillions of dollars estimated to be wagered illegally over the life of the law.”

All Talk, Action Coming

Wednesday’s meeting focused on two core elements of sports betting.

The first panel discussed the current illegal gambling market catering to US citizens from international scantily regulated gaming destinations. The second conversation dealt with advancements in technology that could aid in protecting the integrity of professional and amateur sports while allowing gamblers to wager on the games.

The seminar was meant to educate congressional staffers and Beltway media outlets in attendance. Of course, those doing the educating largely favored ending sports betting prohibition in America.

It’s unclear whether any minds were swayed, but in the coming months the Third Circuit US Court of Appeals will issue the opinion that matters most. New Jersey voters approved sports betting legislation in 2011, however the Big Four sports leagues and NCAA quickly sued the state to delay the law’s implementation.

The process has been long and tedious.

New Jersey and Governor Chris Christie (R) have lost earlier suits brought by the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and NCAA, but the Third Circuit’s granting of an “en banc” hearing could override all previous verdicts.

The court heard the case in mid-February and is expected to release its final decision before August.

Ready to Roll

New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) boss David Rebuck says operators are standing by ready to launch should the Third Circuit decision come down in their favor. “We’re ready to go, but unfortunately we can’t,” Rebuck told NJ.com.

What is also unfortunate for Rebuck is that the odds of the court overturning previous decisions seem rather small.

Proponents of sports betting left the February hearing less than optimistic. At the time, sports gaming attorney Daniel Wallach said the judges “were not buying what the state was selling.”

The AGA will continue its sports betting action regardless of the outcome in New Jersey.

Freeman said yesterday, “After Super Bowl 50, President Obama went on the Stephen Colbert show and said, ‘After every Super Bowl, I call the winning team to congratulate them. And sometimes I call the losing team, especially if I bet on them.'”