The May U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was unconstitutional opened the floodgates for states to begin legalizing and regulating sports betting.
In the months that followed, seven states and the District of Columbia have joined Nevada to offer some version of sports gambling, with another two dozen or so states vowing to look into it in 2019. There’s a decent chance, however, that any new sports betting operator may soon have some new hoops to jump through before they can be up and running.
A federal bill was introduced on Wednesday, which would give the U.S. Justice Department the right to establish the rules and guidelines for sports betting in each state. Additionally, operators would be required to use official league-provided data, which is crucial for in-game betting options.
The bi-partisan bill, titled the Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018, was introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). Hatch, who was an original co-sponsor of PASPA back in 1992, has been outspoken about his desire to see federal oversight of the sports betting industry.
“The legislation we’ve introduced today is the culmination of eight months of high-level meetings, discussions and negotiations, and will serve as a placeholder for the next Congress, should they decide to continue working to address these issues,” said Hatch.
The bill would also create a National Sports Wagering Clearinghouse, which would compile betting data to track suspicious transactions and target money laundering, as well as use tax revenue to combat gambling addiction.
“I knew that Congress had an obligation to ensure that the integrity of the games we love was never compromised,” said Schumer. “That is why I believe the time is now to establish a strong national integrity standard for sports betting that will protect consumers and the games themselves from corruption.”
The bill allows any existing operators to continue offer their products while the Justice Department reviews state laws.
The National Football League (NFL) has already come out in “strong support” of the bill, as has the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
The NFL is the one major sports league that hasn’t already found a gaming partner. MGM Resorts has already signed deals with Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Hockey League (NHL), and the National Basketball Association (NBA). The NBA also has agreements with FanDuel and The Stars Group.
Meanwhile, the bill doesn’t appear to have the support of the American Gaming Association (AGA), which expressed concern of any federal legislation efforts before the bill was officially introduced.
“Since the Supreme Court’s ruling in May, the American Gaming Association has consistently maintained that federal legislation regarding sports betting is not necessary,” said AGA Vice President of Government Relations Chris Cylke. “That underlying position remains unchanged. At the same time, we remain committed to maintaining an open and constructive dialogue with policymakers considering sports betting legislation at any level of government.”
The AGA estimates that U.S. gamblers bet upwards of $150 billion annually on sports, mostly on the black market.