Last week, while the Senate was making headlines with Supreme Court hearings, the other chamber talked sports betting.
The House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigation hosted the hearing “Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America.”
The committee invited expert testimony to help decide where sports betting regulations belong – with the states or the federal government.
The hearing and its timing couldn’t be more interesting. Pennsylvania is almost ready to offer online sports betting and online gaming. Not to mention, four other states launched legal sports betting post-PASPA in recent months.
So why now? Well, the NFL may have had something to do with that.
The NFL: It’s a whole “new world”
As expected, the NFL was invited to provide testimony. Jocelyn Moore, executive vice president, communications and public affairs, National Football League, made sure everyone knew the NFL supports federal sports betting regulations.
The NFL and the major sports leagues, along with the NCAA fought to keep sports betting from becoming legal outside of Nevada. After losing the war, it was obvious the league was looking for ways to capitalize on a new reality.
After several failed attempts to secure integrity fees at the state level, the NFL turned its lobbying efforts towards the federal government. When the Supreme Court found PASPA unconstitutional, it opened the door for states to regulate sports betting in the absence of federal regulations.
In her testimony, Moore contends “issues generated by sports betting cannot be confined within state lines.” As such, Moore believes sports betting is an interstate issue warranting federal regulations.
“While state regulators clearly have an important role to play in a post-PASPA environment, the federal government has primary authority regarding interstate commerce, interstate law enforcement, and international sanctions against corruption and money laundering.”
Currently, sports betting confined to select states
What Moore fails to mention is that technology has advanced significantly since PASPA first became law in 1992. Geolocating technology is highly effective. One only has to look towards Nevada and its eight years of on online sports betting history as proof.
Each of the new states that have come online in recent months has implemented strict geolocation regulations to ensure sports bettors are betting within the state lines.
In preparation for its online launch of gambling, Pennsylvania has similar regulations in place. In fact, Penn National has already teamed up with GeoComply to ensure players are where they say they are.
Moore goes on to provide a suggested outline for federal regulations. Somehow, though, it feels as if the NFL is more intent on protecting how its image and data. Safeguarding consumers against the “dangers of sports betting” seems like an afterthought. Of course, the NFL believes that kind of protection comes with a fee to ensure the integrity of the game.
PA: Don’t mind us, we’re just doing our thing
The sports betting hearing is unlikely to result in any meaningful movement before PA launches legal sports betting.
Currently, there are five sports betting licenses under review in the Keystone State:
The next Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) meeting is on Oct. 3. Translation: PA legalized sports betting is likely to become a reality sooner rather than later.
The sports betting hearing concluded with Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (D-WI) saying:
“I think the one thing that all of you agree on, is that for Congress to do nothing is the worst possible alternative.
“So this means we have some work to do. And I’m looking forward to working with you to try to come up with something both short-term and something more permanent to deal with this issue. Because I’m afraid if we don’t, there are going to be some people that get hurt — and hurt very badly.”
For now, states that are in the midst of enacting sports betting legislation, PA included, are staying the course.
First of all, not everyone agrees sports betting regulations belongs at the federal level. Secondly, the current legislature has not been entirely effective in actually legislating in a timely manner.
In all fairness, Moore did an admirable job in representing the NFL’s interests. Unfortunately, those interests conflict with the states, the sports betting industry, and most importantly with sports bettors.