US Senators file federal sports betting bill

US Senators file federal sports betting bill

Thursday, December 20, 2018 Posted by News Team
AGA dismisses proposed legislation as "a solution in search of a problem"

Senators Chuck Schumer and Orrin Hatch have filed a bill that would establish a federal framework for the US sports betting market. 

The Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018 looks to hand the US Department of Justice responsibility for overseeing the market, and would require states to have their proposed sports betting regulations ratified by the Attorney General. 

States would be permitted to pass legislation for online and land-based wagering, which would be open to all residents aged 21 and over. An amendment to the Wire Act would also give states the option to enter into compacts with others, allowing wagering across state lines. However, this too would require approval from the Attorney General. 

While the legislation does not directly set out fees to be paid to the major professional US sports leagues, it mandates that all operators must only use official league data for betting markets. This requirement would be in place until December 31, 2024. 

The bill also provides for the creation of the National Sports Wagering Clearinghouse, a body that will oversee betting markets across all states, monitoring for suspicious betting patterns. It will also be required to take a leading role in tackling gambling addiction. 

It is to be funded through the 0.25% excise tax on sports betting handle, in place since 1982, of which $3m is to be used for general administration, with a further $5m to go to problem gambling treatment. 

Commenting on the bill, Schumer said he felt duty-bound to act following the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May, to uphold sporting integrity.

“That is why I believe the time is now to establish a strong national integrity standard for sports betting that will protect consumers and the games themselves from corruption," he said. "The bipartisan legislation that Senator Hatch and I have introduced, follows the principles laid out in the federal framework that I released in August and will serve as solid foundation upon which we build the appropriate guardrails around the burgeoning sports betting industry.

"I will strongly advocate for this bill to move forward and for Congress to vote to pass federal legislation very soon.”

Hatch added: “This bill is the first step toward ensuring that sports betting is done right in the states that choose to legalize it.”

However, the proposal has provoked a vitriolic response from the American Gaming Association (AGA). 

“This bill is the epitome of a solution in search of a problem, representing an unprecedented and inappropriate expansion of federal involvement in the gaming industry, which is currently one of the most strictly regulated in the country,” AGA senior vice president of public affairs Sara Slane said.

She explained that there was little need for federal oversight, with more than 4,000 people working in a regulatory capacity across the US. 

“These state and tribal regulators have decades of experience effectively overseeing gaming operations within their jurisdictions.”

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