Sports Betting Hearing Gives Voice to Anti-Gambling Group

The ban on sports betting was repealed last May and a number of lawmakers are of the mind that regulation at the federal level would be the next logical step. In an effort to hear both the pros and cons of government involvement, a congressional hearing this week will include anti-gambling proponents.

Invited to testify before the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations will be a representative of the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, the Sheldon Adelson-backed group that has long been a thorn in the side of online poker and gambling advocates. The hearing is scheduled for Thursday, September 27 at 10 a.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building in the nation’s capitol. You can follow the hearing live over here.

Background on Sports Betting

The meeting is entitled Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America. PASPA is an acronym for the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act which was passed in 1992 and became law in 1993. The bill’s aim was to prevent the spread of sports betting within the US.

Four states were exempted from PASPA due to having previously passed laws prior to 1992 that allowed various forms of sports betting. Those states were Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon.

However, the Supreme Court struck down PASPA on May 14, 2018 following a challenge by the state of New Jersey. As a result, individual states are free to legalize sports betting, and a handful, including New Jersey, already have.

A Matter of Integrity

Regulation of sports betting at the federal level is being considered by a number of legislators, including Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, who has expressed an interest in preserving integrity in sports. That integrity is also paramount to the major professional sports leagues of the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL, who would like some federal oversight to keep undesirable elements from infiltrating the industry.

The sports leagues had long been opposed to legalized sports wagering, but have since changed their tune. Putting federal legislation in place would go a long way toward making the powers that be among the pro sports teams quite happy, as well as the sports betting public that have been wagering on the black market.

Opposing Forces

Undoubtedly quite unhappy with the repeal of PASPA is billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who has gone on record as saying that he will “spend whatever it takes” to stop the proliferation of online gambling. He has repeatedly attempted to push through the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, legislation that would prohibit most forms of online gambling, including poker.

Adelson founded the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling and one of his minions, John Bruning, will be testifying at the subcommittee hearing. Bruning, who previously held the position of attorney general for the state of Nebraska, will be speaking out against online gambling and will likely attempt to persuade committee members to pass legislation forbidding it.

Also on the con side of the table among the testifying witnesses will be University of Illinois Professor John Warren Kindt. The author of a number of publications that shine a spotlight on the negative aspects of gambling such as The Gambling Threat to National and Homeland Security: Internet Gambling, Kindt will likely parrot the same spiel as Bruning.

Other Witnesses

Also invited to speak and educate the federal lawmakers are Jocelyn Moore, Executive Vice President of Communication and Public Affairs for the NFL; Sara Slane, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs for the American Gaming Association; and Becky Harris, who occupies a Chair on the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Harris will likely be obligated to denounce the testimony of Kindt and Bruning with first-hand knowledge of how Nevada has successfully offered sports betting for many decades. Slane is expected to follow that up with the AGA’s take on legalized sports betting that will likely include estimates on the billions of dollars in revenue to be had. Moore probably wants the NFL to have major input on the regulation of sports betting.

A previous sports betting hearing by the same committee was set for June, but was cancelled. Thursday’s hearing is expected to be just the first of many to follow.

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