State of the Union: US Sports Betting Update – Congress Lays out Federal Frameworks

Congress will meet next week to examine whether it needs to create a federal framework to regulate the burgeoning sports betting industry.

Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey and West Virginia have joined Nevada in offering sports betting since the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. At least two more states are set to follow before the end of 2018, but right now they are all creating their own frameworks. Congress now feels it may need to lay down guidance at a federal level as the industry continues to gather pace.

Congress to review the Sports Betting Landscape

“Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America” will take place at 10am on Thursday in the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigation. “My subcommittee will look at the implications of this Supreme Court ruling and talk about what it means for the integrity of sports as well as what sorts of improper or illicit activities could arise,” said subcommittee chairman Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner. “Ultimately, we want to determine whether or not a basic federal framework is necessary to guide states’ new gambling policies.”

The chair of the Nevada Gaming Board, Becky Harris, is among the expert witnesses called to testify before the subcommittee. She is expected to argue against the need for federal intervention in the industry, citing Nevada’s ability to manage sports betting as a shining beacon that other states can follow. The American Gaming Association is also vehemently opposed to federal regulations. It is sending senior vice president of public affairs Sara Slane to testify, and she will maintain that “states and sovereign tribal nations – not the federal government – are best positioned to regulate and oversee legal sports betting markets”.

However, the influential senate minority leader Chuck Schumer has put forward a proposal for nationwide regulations covering the sports wagering sector. Schumer wants to protect the integrity of the major US sports leagues, safeguard children from gambling and ensure that there is no exploitation of addicts, while ensuring all bettors are adequately protected. The best way to achieve this, contends Schumer, is via a nationwide framework that all states must adhere to. “With the Supreme Court’s ruling, it’s incumbent on the federal government to take a leadership role and provide the necessary guidance to prevent uncertainty and confusion for the leagues, state governments, consumers and fans alike,” he said.


The Effect on Sport

The NBA, MLB and the PGA Tour released a joint statement supporting his plans, reiterating calls for “consistent, nationwide integrity standards to safeguard the sports millions of fans love”. That has persuaded Congress to schedule Thursday’s meeting and examine the need for the nationwide policing of the industry. Central government may feel it is losing control of the sports betting movement as it spreads like wildfire across the US.

In Pennsylvania, Penn National and Parx Casino owner Greenwood Gaming have applied for licences, and they could soon be up and running. Over in Kentucky, House Representative Dennis Keene has launched a bill that would permit sports wagering. If passed the prefiled legislation would allow the Kentucky Lottery Corporation to offer betting on professional and collegiate sports to players over the age 18. The Bluegrass State is the home of Churchill Downs and its showpiece race, the Kentucky Derby, is one of the biggest betting events of the year. Sports wagering could be huge if given the green light there.


Bringing the Betting Billions Above Board

It is estimated that 30 states could be offering sports betting within the next 12 months, and the District of Columbia also wants to jump aboard the bandwagon. A bill launched there this week seeks to permit the DC Lottery to run sports betting at venues like Nationals Park, Capital One Arena and Audi Field across the US capital. “There is $150 billion of underground gambling on sports in America,” said Washington, D.C. councilmember Jack Evans, who introduced the bill. “How do you bring that $150 billion above ground so that they will bet with the District of Columbia instead of betting with my bookie?” There are no casinos in the district, so the bill is more expansive than those seen in states like New Jersey and Delaware, where sports wagering has to be linked to a land-based casino. Evans’ plan would allow private firms to apply for licences to offer betting at other bricks and mortar locations and online.

He hopes sports betting will be up and running by spring 2019 across Washington, D.C. “The legislation’s purpose is to legalize sports betting in D.C. while creating strong regulatory structures that ensure consumer confidence,” he wrote on Twitter. The industry has generated a lot of excitement in the US media, but it did receive some negative press this month.

FanDuel slips up

A punter at the FanDuel sportsbook in the Meadowlands, New Jersey, took advantage of a computer glitch to secure odds of 750/1 (+75000) on an in-play market in the final moments of the Denver Broncos-Oakland Raiders game on Sunday. FanDuel, owned by betting giant Paddy Power Betfair, initially refused to pay out the $82,000 winnings, saying it is not obliged to pay for obvious errors. Bettor Anthony Prince of Newark went public to lay into the company for not paying him, but after consulting with the state’s gambling regulators FanDuel has relented.

FanDuel NFL error

Prince bet $110 before a game winning field goal from the Broncos. FanDuel said the odds should have been 1/6 (-600) but at technological error made them huge. “A 36-yard field goal has approximately an 85% chance of success, so the astronomical odds offered on something highly likely to occur was very obviously a pricing error,” said the firm. “These kinds of issues are rare, but they do happen. We want sports betting to be fun. So, this one’s on the house. We are paying out these erroneous tickets and wish the lucky customers well.” The operator went one step further in its bid to secure goodwill among potential customers, pledging to give away another $82,000 this weekend by adding $1,000 apiece to the accounts of 82 randomly chosen customers.

Author: Kristian

Kristian heads up the content and SEO team at Digital Fuel having worked in digital marketing for ten years. He’s as passionate about creative content as he is about Brighton & Hove Albion FC and when he’s not following football he’s writing about Brighton’s bustling pub scene

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