Sports wagering in the United States would be regulated by the federal government under a bill with bipartisan support introduced Wednesday by US Senators Orrin Hatch and Chuck Schumer.
The 2018 Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act would set standards for states seeking to offer sports betting but would not give leagues a share of sports gambling revenues.
“As a lifelong sports fan I treasure the purity of the game,” said Schumer, a Democrat from New York. “I knew that Congress had an obligation to ensure that the integrity of the games we love was never compromised.
“I believe the time is now to establish a strong national integrity standard for sports betting that will protect consumers and the games themselves from corruption.”
The move comes in the wake of last May’s US Supreme Court decision that opened the way for all 50 states to offer sports betting and a Tuesday decision by Washington DC to legalize sports betting, the first American jurisdiction without casinos to approve sportsbooks.
“Sports betting is inevitable so let’s make sure it’s done right,” said Hatch, a Utah Republican.
“This bill is the first step toward ensuring that sports betting is done right in the states that choose to legalize it. Just as importantly, it provides protections for states that choose not to go down that path.”
Since the Supreme Court decision in May opened the door for more sports betting, Nevada has been joined by New Jersey, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Mississippi lawmakers in legalizing sports gambling.
Professional sports leagues have been concerned about maintaining confidence in the integrity of match results in an expanded gambling situation as well as differing rules in 50 states for gambling laws, a worry the federal law would solve.
“Without continued federal guidance and oversight, we are very concerned that sports leagues and state governments alone will not be able to fully protect the integrity of sporting contests and guard against the harms Congress has long recognized as being associated with sports betting,” said NFL executive vice president Jocelyn Moore.
“Rather than preventing states from making policy choices about whether or not to allow sports betting, the Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act would ensure that all state-sanctioned sports betting is conducted pursuant to core standards that protect consumers, guard against problem gambling and gambling by our nation’s youth, and uphold the integrity of sporting contests.”
– Leagues would sell data –
The bill would authorize regulated online sports wagering to counter betting from outside the nation, ban sports wagers on amateur sports events except the Olympics and college events, restrict certain wagers as needed to combat match integrity issues, set a minimum age of 21 to place a bet and ban athletes, coaches and officials associated with sports organizations and people convicted of certain crimes from wagering.
The bill would also require sports wagering operators use data provided or licensed by sports organizations to determine the outcome of sports wagers through 2024.
That could allow leagues to make money by serving as providers of statistical information as needed, settling wagers on particular plays or decisions within matches for such leagues as the NBA and NFL.