Federal Sports Betting Bill Introduced to Congress, Seeks to Create Regulatory Framework

Posted on: December 20, 2018, 07:19h. 

Last updated on: December 20, 2018, 07:19h.

A sports betting bill introduced by US Senators Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) would create a regulatory minimum framework that states wishing to participate in the gambling activity would be required to obey.

sports betting law Congress Hatch Schumer
Senators Orrin Hatch (left) and Chuck Schumer are readying Congress to again interject itself into sports betting. (Image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty/Casino.org)

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled in May that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1993, the federal ban that outlawed full-fledged sports betting in all but Nevada, violated interpretations of the Tenth Amendment. The 6-3 decision gave states the power to determine their own rules and regulations on sports wagering – so long as Congress doesn’t intervene and pass superseding federal legislation.

That’s precisely what Schumer and Hatch seek to accomplish. The Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018 would set minimum standards for states to offer sports gambling. The controversial so-called “integrity fees” requiring sportsbooks to share revenues with the leagues isn’t part of the bill.

I knew that Congress had an obligation to ensure that the integrity of the games we love was never compromised,” Schumer said after introducing the bill to the Senate. “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.”

Seven states – Delaware, New Jersey, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Mississippi, and New Mexico – have already joined Nevada in allowing sportsbooks to begin operations.

Bipartisan Support Key

If a Senator of Representative wants to get a law passed, one of the most important factors is convincing someone one of the other side of the political aisle to lend their name to the legislation.

According to Quorum Analytics, nearly 70 percent of the bills signed into law during the 115th Congress (2018) has carried at least one Democrat and one Republican cosponsor. That’s the highest level in more than two decades, and shows just how divided DC has become.

Hatch, who is the longest-serving Republican in Senate history, knows the game all too well. The 84-year-old is retiring after this year, but said he signed on with Schumer to show bipartisan support and give the sports betting bill better odds of passing.

Who Knows Gaming Best?

Passing Schumer and Hatch’s sports betting bill will have plenty of opponents, most specifically lobbyists and executives representing the gaming industry. They believe state gaming regulators and tribal nations are more than qualified to oversee and regulate sports betting without Congress involving itself in the matter.

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,” American Gaming Association VP of Public Affairs Sara Slane declared. “Across the country, nearly 4,000 dedicated public servants already regulate all forms of gaming, including sports wagering.”

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

Slane had previously said Congress’ oversight of sports betting during PASPA’s 26-year authority “was an abject failure.”