[toc]Congressman Frank Pallone (D – NJ) has announced the introduction of a bill to allow states the ability to legalize sports betting inside their borders. The Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act, or GAME Act, provides for several regulatory structures and other legislative effects.
Most notably, the bill would repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). PASPA is the 1992 federal law that rendered sports betting illegal in most every state.
At present, the state of New Jersey is arguing against PASPA’s constitutionality at the United States Supreme Court. Though nothing is set in stone, observers of the case against PASPA have noted that most of the Court’s justices seem sympathetic to the state’s petition.
So, what’s in the GAME Act?
However, the GAME Act may render any potential Supreme Court decision a moot point. The act itself is a broad authorization for states to pursue gaming within state lines.
Section 2 of the bill asserts that federal liability will not apply to anyone who gambles if it is legal in the state. The only requirements are that the state and operators must provide certain consumer protections, particularly if operators offer services in multiple states.
The GAME Act also authorizes the creation of a committee to research gambling addiction. Concurrently, the act orders the Centers for Disease Control to establish a surveillance system for gambling addiction.
The language of the bill also specifically mentions sports betting and daily fantasy sports wagering as authorized under the act. The language rules out any potential argument that sports betting is exempt from the bill’s provisions.
Finally, and most importantly, the act unequivocally repeals PASPA.
Where do we go from here?
Pallone introduced the bill on Dec. 4. Also known as House Resolution 4530, the bill must proceed past the House Judiciary Committee before any kind of vote would occur.
Govtrack only gives the bill a one percent chance of passage at this point. Still, the boldness and affirmative nature of the bill is a good sign for sports betting in the United States.
These sorts of laws tend to widely affect the landscape of gambling in this country. Laws like PASPA, the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA), and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act can precipitate the loss or gain of billions of dollars.
While Pallone’s bill may not have the proverbial snowball’s chance in hell of passage, the creation of legislative momentum is important for broadening gambling’s legalization. For instance, Dina Titus, a Democrat from Nevada’s 1st District, wrote a letter to Reps. Pallone and Greg Walden the same day the GAME Act debuted.
In the letter, she pleaded with her colleagues for hearings on sports betting. She described sports betting as “alive and booming,” a $150 million-dollar industry at risk of criminal influence due to its lack of regulation.
2018 may be the year of the sports bettor.