Representatives who have an interest in what the Supreme Court decides regarding legalized sports wagering met in New York City to discuss the topic at the Sports Betting USA Conference. They shared ideas about what the future holds as the Court hears arguments next month in the case of (New Jersey Gov. Chris) Christie v. NCAA.
The two-day confab concluded Wednesday.
Hosted by Clarion Gaming, the panels included discussions about the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), models for legal sports betting, regulation if and when the high court overturns PASPA, and legislative options if it doesn’t.
Ewa Bakun, head of industry insight and engagement at Clarion Gaming, said the goal was to bring together a variety of people who can help bring clarity to issues surrounding the prospects of legal sports betting in the US.
“The people we have gathered together in this room represent the leading authorities from both sides of the debate who share a common goal, which is to usher in a new dawn of properly regulated sports betting which protects the integrity of sport and consumer rights,” Bakun said.
Ready to Regulate
The overlying message from convention speakers was that sports betting legalization is going to happen either through the Supreme Court or Congressional legislation. How exactly to build a model for effective regulation that maintains the integrity of sports is what was up for debate.
Chief of Gaming Enforcement for the Attorney General of Massachusetts Patrick Hanley compared sports betting to the expansion of legalized marijuana in the US. Ensuring a comprehensive policy that is applicable to any of 20 estimated states that are considering setting up sports wagering is the key, he said.
Another hot discussion topic was how to produce sports betting that is agreeable to the sports industry. In addition to the NCAA, executives from Major League Baseball, the NFL, NBA, and NHL all oppose overturning PASPA. However, the leagues are prepared to lose on this front, and panelist Dan Spillane, senior vice president and assistant general counsel for the NBA, said they want to ensure that there is strong regulation in place.
Vic Salerno, President, US Fantasy, the Las Vegas provider of skill-based fantasy wagering contests, said Nevada has had an effective model in place for more than four decades.
“We have to educate the legislators and the regulatory authorities on how betting on games legally will help keep the game honest by seeing where the money is being bet and tracking who’s betting,” Salerno said.
“The question is, ‘Would you rather bet with Caesars Palace or the State of New Jersey instead of an offshore bookmaker where you have no control of your money and have no guarantee of being paid?’”
PASPA in the Balance
Lawyers are preparing for oral arguments before the Supreme Court on Dec. 4 in Christie v. NCAA, where they can expect a barrage of questions from the nine justices. Representatives for New Jersey will reason that PASPA is unconstitutional and should be overturned, while those debating for the NCAA will counter by extoling the merits of the law.
A decision is expected by the court in the spring, sometime between April and June.
Sara Slane, senior vice president for public affairs at the American Gaming Association, said states will act quickly if the Court rules in New Jersey’s favor.
Pennsylvania’s recently passed gambling expansion, for example, included a provision that allows the state to begin regulating sportsbetting almost immediately should either the court or congress end the current federal prohibition.
“Once the decision is issued by the court, the states – depending on how that decision is issued – could move quite soon after if they so choose to,” Slane said.