While PA Plans State Betting Regs, Hatch Eyes Federal Wagering Bill

Written By J.R. Duren on May 21, 2018
Sen. Orrin Hatch

Orrin Hatch isn’t backing down.

Hatch, the long-time Utah Republican senator, was one of four original authors of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Now he’s vying to author a new set of federal guidelines for sports betting.

In a statement released on the senator’s website, he said the following in the wake of the Supreme Court of the United Statesdecision to uphold New Jersey’s right to legislate sports betting.

“At stake here is the very integrity of sports. That’s why I plan to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to help protect honesty and principle in the athletic arena. I invite stakeholders and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me in addressing this important issue.”

Hatch says issues same today as they were 25 years ago

Hatch’s main concern is that, while SCOTUS supported each state’s right to make their own decisions about sports betting, the issues that jeopardized sports integrity 25 years ago still exist today.

Hatch also pointed to a pair of other issues: the internet creating betting across state lines as well as the fact that gambling regulations will be a state-by-state patchwork without any standardization.

What makes Hatch’s argument so interesting is that the Las Vegas sports betting industry has shown that irregular betting patterns are pretty easy to sniff out.

One could argue that Pennsylvania doesn’t need to turn to the federal government for sports betting regulations. All they have to do is look to Nevada.

States can follow Nevada’s example

Dickinson Wright attorney Greg Gemignani is a casino law expert. In an interview with The Lines, he noted that Las Vegas is a great source of regulation wisdom because they’ve seen pretty much everything there is to see in the sports betting landscape.

 If you’re a new state wondering how you should do it, look at the Nevada regulations and see how things are done. There’s probably a darn good reason they’re done that way,” Gemignani said. “A lot of the things that are in there are because we experienced problems and we addressed it through regulation. You can get a head start as a new state to take a look the regulations.”

Sports betting may face the same issues it did 25 years ago. However, the security measures and regulations that Nevada has put in place are more advanced than they were when PASPA became law.

Pennsylvania casinos and lawmakers could, in theory, consult with their Nevada counterparts to get a sense of what works and what hasn’t worked. Then regulators can use that loose framework as a basis for their own system.

Wire Act nuances may come into play

Hatch didn’t reveal many details about what his proposed regulations entailed. The fact that he mentioned the internet allowing people to place bets across state lines may mean that the senator will formulate rules that take the Wire Act into account.

Previous attempts by Senators Lindsay Graham and Dianne Feinstein to link the Wire Act to general internet gambling didn’t seem to move the Department of Justice to rethink their stance on it.

Whatever is included in Hatch’s proposed regulations, Pennsylvania seems to be on track to launch sports betting before Congress passes a federal sports betting law.

This past week Rush Street Interactive made news when they announced their partnership with Kambi. The company is a  global sportsbook operator who will work with Rivers Casino and SugarHouse. Like other casinos in the state, these properties are eager to start offering in-casino and mobile wagering as soon as possible.

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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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