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One-Sided Congressional Hearing on Sports Betting Leaves Little Room for OptimismPublished October 4, 2018 by Elana K
On Thursday, a Congressional hearing entitled “Post PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America,” took place. The hearing was fairly one-sided, in favor of those who support federal regulation of sports betting in the U.S.
On Thursday, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations held a hearing entitled “Post PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America.” The subcommittee heard testimony from 5 experts regarding the current situation of sports betting since it was legalized by the Supreme Court in May of this year, with the main question being whether the federal government should step into the ring and regulate the industry.
The hearing was fairly one-sided, in favor of those who support federal regulation of sports betting. However, there were 2 outstanding opponents of federal interference who held their own: Becky Harris, chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, and Sara Slane, senior VP of public affairs at the American Gaming Association (AGA).
Against Federal Regulation of Sports Betting
Harris argued that states are doing a great job of regulating gambling and sports betting, and there’s no reason for the federal government to interfere. She pointed out that “Nevada has a comprehensive regulatory structure that has been refined over decades, and we have a lot of integrity in our process.”
Slane’s testimony was in the same vein; she said that just as Congress does not currently regulate lotteries, slot machines, and table games, it should also refrain from regulating sports betting. She said that states and tribes are doing a wonderful job of regulating, and there’s no reason to “over-complicate or interfere with a system that is already working.”
In Favor of Federal Regulation of Sports Betting
House Republicans came out strongly in favor of federal sports betting regulation, citing concerns about fixing matches and exposing minors to gambling. The NFL also came out in favor of federal regulation, saying that states lack the ability to “fully protect the integrity of sports contests.”
And unsurprisingly, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning spoke on behalf of the Coalition to Stop Online Gambling, an organization created by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson in order to prevent states from legalizing online gambling. Given that Bruning represents Adelson, it’s no surprise that his arguments were strangely reminiscent to those of RAWA (Restoration of America’s Wire Act), a bill Adelson tried to push forward a few years ago to ban online gambling across the U.S.
The hearing was adjourned by Subcommittee chair Jim Sensenbrenner, who said, “I think the one thing you all agree on is that for Congress to do nothing is the worst possible alternative. This means we have some work to do.” While this indeed sounds like Congress plans to get involved in sports betting, the extent to which it will has yet to be determined.