Sen. Mitt Romney Hatching Federal Sports Betting Bill With Strange Bedfellow Sen. Chuck Schumer

Posted on: September 6, 2019, 03:40h. 

Last updated on: September 6, 2019, 04:20h.

Senators Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Chuck Schumer (D-New York) are teaming up to bring Congress a bill that would govern sports betting on the federal level.

Mitt Romney Congress sports betting law
Chuck Schumer (left) and Mitt Romney want Congress to determine how sports betting operates in each state. (Image: Cheryl Diaz/Desert News)

Gambling Compliance broke the news that the two are collaborating to introduce “federal guidelines” for legal sports gambling in the United States. States wishing to participate in the gaming activity would need to abide by the regulations, as federal law supersedes state statutes.

Romney won the November 2018 election to replace Sen. Orrin Hatch, who retired after 42 years in the Senate Hatch was the longest-serving Republican in Senate history.

Hatch was one of the authors of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992, which banned full-scale sports betting everywhere but Nevada. The US Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in May 2018 that the federal law violated the Constitution.

Following the historic SCOTUS decision, Hatch and Schumer introduced a placeholder bill called the Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act. The bill sought to require states legalizing sports betting to have their regulations approved by the US Attorney General, and also purchase “official league data” from the sports leagues.

Unlikely Partners

Romney, a conservative Mormon, and Schumer, a Jewish liberal New Yorker, don’t appear to have much in common. But following Hatch’s departure from DC, Schumer began seeking a sports betting collaborator on the other side of the political aisle.

Romney, being Hatch’s successor, apparently made a perfect fit. Schumer and Hatch, and now Romney, believe Congress must play a roll in governing sports betting.

“Overshadowing the legal sports wagering market is a much larger illegal sports wagering market that circumvents the taxation, anti-money laundering controls, and other regulations of the legal sports wagering market,” Hatch and Schumer’s bill declared.

While each State may decide whether to permit sports wagering and how to regulate sports wagering, there is an important role for Congress to set standards for sports wagering and provide law enforcement with additional authority to target the illegal sports wagering market and bad actors in the growing legal sports wagering market,” the bill concluded.

As he departed Washington, Hatch said of the sports betting regulatory template, “There is much work to be done, but I hope this bill will serve as a placeholder for the next Congress, should they decide to continue working to address these issues.”

Industry Opposed

The news that Romney and Schumer plan to continue the federal push for Congress to dictate how sports betting operates in the US won’t find much support from the gaming industry. The American Gaming Association (AGA) – the leading lobbying group for the industry – is against such legislation.

Sara Slane, who was the AGA senior VP of public affairs before exiting the group to form her own consultancy in June, testified before a House subcommittee that unnecessary regulations will only allow illegal offshore sportsbooks to thrive.

“The AGA does not believe an additional layer of federal regulatory oversight is needed,” Slane declared. “Just as Congress has refrained from regulating lotteries, slot machines, table games, and other gambling products, it should leave sports betting oversight to the states and tribes that are closest to the market.”