For a few hours on Tuesday night, it appeared as though Congress would be holding a hearing to discuss sports betting on Capitol Hill next week. But those plans were quickly scuttled, as the House Judiciary Committee announced Wednesday morning that the inquiry would be postponed.

Congress sports betting hearing
Employees prepare to take bets on opening day of the Monmouth Park Sports Book in Oceanport, New Jersey. (Image: AP/Noah K. Murray)

As of yet, no new date has been established for the hearing, which was to be titled Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America.

Feds Could Still Have Say

Such talks would mark the first concrete congressional action taken since the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) last month.

While that ruling allowed states to regulate sports betting on their own terms, it didnt exclude the federal government from regulating the industry, either. That makes it possible, and perhaps even likely, that Congress will provide some sort of framework or oversight to the betting industry as it begins to spread across the country.

The meeting that had been scheduled for June 26 was scheduled to take place in front of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations. An ESPN report cited a source familiar with the hearing who said the inquiry was postponed due to scheduling complications.

Hearings on the subject could be the first step towards developing federal guidelines for the industry. Reigning in precisely what will be allowed as been a stated goal of some legislators, including Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), one of the authors of PASPA.

The rapid rise of the Internet means that sports betting across state lines is now just a click away, Hatch said in a statement released just after the Supreme Court ruling was announced. We cannot allow this practice to proliferate amid uneven enforcement and a patchwork race to the regulatory bottom. At stake here is the very integrity of sports.

NFL, AGA Among Expected Participants

A focus on integrity has also been an important talking point for sports leagues, though not all of them have approached the subject from the same angle. While the NBA, MLB, and PGA have argued in favor of an integrity fee that would help offset the costs the leagues say they will face because of sports betting, the NFL has instead called for federal oversight and congressional action.

Congress has long-recognized the potential harms posed by sports betting to the integrity of sporting contests, NFL spokesperson Brain McCarthy said following the Supreme Court decision. We intend to call on Congress again, this time to enact a core regulatory framework.

Perhaps, then, it was no surprise that the NFL was one of the parties invited to provide testimony for the cancelled hearing, according to sources cited by ESPN. Others expected to testify include Geoff Freeman, the outgoing president and CEO of the American Gaming Association.

Since the PASPA repeal, both Delaware and New Jersey have joined Nevada in offering a wide range of sports betting options. Several other states, including Mississippi, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania are also hoping to have sports betting operations up and running in the near future.

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