One week after a senior Senator began the push for federal regulation of sports betting, the gaming industry lobby punched back with a forceful statement.
In an open letter addressed to “federal policymakers,” the American Gaming Association (AGA) advised members of Congress to allow individual states the right to regulation:
“In the wake of the Court’s ruling, some have called for Congress to enact a federal framework to regulate sports betting.
AGA believes this is unwise, unnecessary and out of step with public sentiment indicating 7 in 10 Americans think this decision should be left to each state, not the federal government.
States have proven to be effective gaming regulators in the 26 years since Congress passed PASPA.
As Congress has refrained from regulating lotteries, slot machines, table games and other gambling products, it should similarly refrain from engaging on sports wagering barring an identifiable problem that warrants federal attention.”
The AGA – America’s largest organization lobbying on behalf of the gaming industry – sent its letter just eight days after another missive made its way to Capitol Hill.
On May 14, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) issued a statement calling on Congress to authorize federal regulations targeting the newly legalized sports betting industry.
Hatch – who serves as President Pro Tempore of the US Senate and the Chairman of the Senate Republican High-Tech Task Force – insisted that a patchwork of state laws would be ineffective in light of the internet’s interstate reach:
“The problems posed by sports betting are much the same as they were 25 years ago. But the rapid rise of the Internet means that sports betting across state lines is now just a click away.
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.
That’s why I plan to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to help protect honesty and principle in the athletic arena. I invite stakeholders and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me in addressing this important issue.”
Hatch’s statement was made public on the same day that state regulation of sports betting came to a head. On May 14, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling which struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) – a 26-year old federal ban on sports betting outside of Nevada.
In refuting Hatch’s claims, the AGA observed that gaming has become a nationwide economic engine in the decades since PASPA’s passage:
“The gaming industry is already one of the most-regulated in the country, and state and tribal regulators have decades of experience effectively overseeing gaming operations within their jurisdictions.
Some form of regulated gaming and/or lottery now exists in 48 states, and in FY 2015 alone, the 24 commercial gaming states spent more than $600 million at agencies committed to ensuring the probity and integrity of casinos’ operations.”
The AGA also pointed to the successful template established by Nevada, as the Silver State has overseen a thriving sports betting industry since the 1950s:
“We also need not look any further than Nevada – where sports wagering has been legal since 1949 – to see this activity can be effectively regulated by the states.
In Nevada, operators, regulators and sports leagues have worked together to ensure integrity for both betting operations and professional and collegiate sports.”
Following the Court’s repeal of PASPA, several states are set to establish their own sports betting laws, including New Jersey – which spearheaded the original challenge to the law – along with Delaware, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.