AGA Forms American Sports Betting Coalition to Pursue Federal Sports Betting Legalization

As nationwide support for the legalization of sports betting grows, the American Gaming Association (AGA) has launched yet another lobbying effort in hopes of convincing Congress to repeal a 25-year federal ban.

In a press release issued on June 12, the AGA announced the formation of the American Sports Betting Coalition (ASBC).

The ASBC already lists several prominent national organizations among its membership, including the AGA’s own Illegal Gambling Advisory Board, along with the Fraternal Order of Police, the National District Attorneys Association, the Major County Sheriffs Association, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Chief among the ASBC’s stated objectives will be pursuing a prompt repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) of 1992, a federal law which bans sports betting in all but four American states (Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana).

Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, issued a statement outlining the impetus for the ASBC’s formation:

“Big Government’s 1992 sports betting prohibition has failed to protect sports, fans and communities.

We are partnering with local and state elected officials, law enforcement and other diverse interests to tell Washington to get out of the way. Regulated sports betting is what fans want and sports integrity demands.”

The AGA’s announcement cited a recent survey commissioned by the organization in May, and conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, which found that 55 percent of Americans support a repeal of PAPSA. The same survey also concluded that 72 percent of American sports fans would like to see PAPSA repealed, thus allowing individual states to set up their own regulated sports betting industries.

Also cited was a newly released study conducted by Oxford Research, which found that illicit sports betting currently constitutes a market valued at $150 billion. Per the Oxford Research findings, legalization would create up to 152,000 employment positions, while generating $5.3 billion in tax revenue across the municipal, state, and federal levels.

Several public figures aligned with the ASBC offered comment on PAPSA as part of the organization’s rollout, including Wisconsin attorney general Brad Schimel. Applying his expertise as a member of the National Association of Attorneys General Executive Committee, Schimel offered his legal opinion on PAPSA’s viability:

“PASPA is unconstitutional and a failed law. I, along with several of my colleagues from other states, believe we must respect state sovereignty.

The rampant illegal sports betting that currently exists continues to fuel other criminal activities and provides no consumer protections. States should be able to determine for themselves how to address the issue.”

Ed Davis, who served as Boston Police Commissioner between 2006 and 2013, offered a glimpse into his personal experience as a law enforcement officer, and the unintended consequences of a blanket sports betting ban:

“I have worked organized crime cases; I have seen first-hand the footprint of illegal gambling into large criminal enterprises.

I’ve worked closely with AGA the last two years as part of its Illegal Gambling Advisory Board to thoughtfully study these issues; it’s clear to me we need to regulate sports betting; it’s time to get practical about public safety.”

Mick Cornett, mayor of Oklahoma City and president of the United States Conference of Mayors, framed the PAPSA debate as a states’ rights issue:

“The overwhelming majority of Americans agree that allowing sports betting is something for the people of each state to decide, not the federal government.

Also, the potential revenue would be great for our local economics; and the tools for law enforcement would make our communities safer.”

The ASBC announcement coincides with reports that the AGA has held a series of informal meetings in New York City over the last year, convening with representatives for the Player’s Unions of the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL. The meetings were held to discuss the possible impact of PAPSA’s repeal, which the AGA views as an inevitability given the current political climate.