Leagues: Federal Sports Betting Law Would ‘Safeguard’ Integrity Of Games

Posted By Grant Lucas on August 30, 2018

Though state-sanctioned legalized sports betting is in full swing, particularly in New Jersey, the sports leagues have shown they will not sit back and begrudgingly accept it.

After a yearslong court battle ultimately ended with the US Supreme Court allowing states to determine the legality of wagering within their own borders, the leagues have sought out ways in which to swing any legalized industry into their favor.

For a spell, that involved seeking out integrity fees. Now that the outlook looks bleak on those (and nonexistent with NJ sports betting) the leagues have found another platform to back.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer came forward Wednesday without proposed legislation but a framework and an urging for adoption of federal regulations surrounding sports betting. And several leagues have quickly jumped on the bandwagon.

Legal sports betting vs. sports leagues

Among Schumer’s proposals is a requirement for bookmakers to buy official league data while ceding control to the leagues over the types of bets offered. Casinos would also have to share with leagues and government bodies any anonymously betting trend information.

Unsurprisingly, the top US sports leagues quickly came to Schumer’s support.

First came a joint statement from the NBAMLB and PGA Tour:

“As legalized sports betting spreads across the states, there is a need for consistent, nationwide integrity standards to safeguard the sports millions of fans love. We strongly support the legislative framework outlined by Senator Schumer and we encourage Congress to adopt it.”

Then came a joint statement from the NFL and NCAA:

“Protecting the integrity of our sports is of paramount importance to the NFL and NCAA. We applaud the leadership demonstrated by Senators (Orrin) Hatch and (Chuck) Schumer in support and federal legislation to protect the integrity of our games following the Supreme Court decision. Core federal standards are critical to safeguarding the sports we love, the millions of athletes across the country who play these games at all levels and our fans.”

Schumer: ‘Stakes are too high’

Schumer’s proposal came a week after Sen. Orrin Hatch, who co-authored the federal ban that was struck down by SCOTUS, gave a speech on the Senate floor, promising to craft legislation for federal regulation of sports betting “in the coming weeks.”

“With the Supreme Court’s ruling,” Schumer said in a statement, “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.”

A recent Forbes story detailed the near future of state-sanctioned sports betting. More than 30 states could have regulated wagering in place within the next five years, according to a study from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming LLC.

Additionally, Barclays estimates that legalized gambling in the US could result in as much as $10 billion in revenue each year.

“The stakes are too high — legal sports betting laws must be crafted and executed in a careful and thoughtful way,” Schumer said in a statement. “I also support the efforts in the Congress to debate and develop bipartisan federal legislation that would adhere to these principles. The integrity of sports is too precious to not protect as best we can.”

AGA opposes federal sports betting proposal

Even before SCOTUS cleared the path for legalized sports betting, the American Gaming Association advocated for states to determine whether they should allow regulated wagering.

In a statement from AGA senior vice president of public affairs Sara Slane:

“The casino gaming industry shares Senator Schumer’s goal in preserving the integrity of sporting events and providing consumer protections. Federal oversight of sports betting was an abject failure for 26 years only contributing to a thriving illegal market with no consumer protections and safeguards. New federal mandates are a nonstarter.”

Essentially, Slane said, a federal framework led to black-market bookmakers. Now is a time to avoid federal intervention.

Also from Slane:

“The casino industry is working with stakeholders to ensure the proper protections for consumers, and the integrity of bets and sporting contests are included in state policy, universally implemented by all operators in those states, and overseen by effective state and tribal gaming regulators.”

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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sportswriter who has covered high school, collegiate, and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant now focuses his attention on the growing NJ online gambling and sports betting scene.

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