House Republicans are in favor of new federal regulations on the sports betting industry, but growing concerns about advertising and minors’ exposure to the industry cannot be thwarted so soon. Heightened activity in Washington for the federal law currently appears to be on track.
At a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Thursday, GOP members shared concerns about sports gambling targeting minors and the industry’s potential to fix matches. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, Wisconsin Republican countered the arguments saying that Congress’ inactivity is the worst possible alternative in this situation.
The hearing was the first since Supreme Court’s June decision to allow states to open sportsbooks. Full-service sportsbooks have been in operation in Nevada, but the apex court’s decision has led Delaware, West Virginia, Mississippi and New Jersey to legalize betting on pro and amateur sports. Different rules and tax rates in different states could make the prospects of sports betting operators dim.
It could also leave sports leagues fiddling with regulations in different states. They have requested lawmakers for uniform standards for state-level regulatory bodies and also to make 21 years the minimum betting age. Their most important proposal is to let sportsbooks use official league data while limiting in-game prop bets.
The US has been particularly firm on gambling and trading activities over the last decade or so. Following a series of forex and binary options frauds, both became heavily regulated and there is much concern that the sports betting industry will go the same way.
The American Gaming Association was represented by Sara Slane at the hearing. The organization favors state-by-state sports betting regulations as additional taxes on casinos could be damaging to their existence. In the absence of better margins, these entities could be forced out of business. The executive director of Stop Predatory Gambling Les Bernal, on the other hand, said that gambling must be restricted to as much extent as possible, including a strict limit on advertising. Bernal noted that Americans could lose $1 trillion of wealth in the next eight years through government-sanctioned gambling.
Interestingly, no bill has been introduced by the GOP members that include all these proposals. The ill-effects of a nationwide sports betting policy may still not be fully comprehended by the lawmakers. While the industry suggests that legalization and federal regulation is good as it will help licensed, tax-paying businesses flourish. It will help in providing better consumer protection and avoid nefarious activities that take place in illegal betting markets.
Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Rep and Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte said that online gambling could not be contained within state borders, which makes federal action essential. The tension over the consequences of federal regulation was evident at the hearing. Though it appears likely that GOP members would prefer to push for federal regulations, supported by sports leagues, the final look of the regulation is still unclear.