AGA slams federal sports betting framework proposal

30 August 2018

The American Gaming Association (AGA) has warned Chuck Schumer that his new proposals for a federal framework for sports betting in the US are “a non-starter” despite several top sports organisations having come out in support of the US Senate Minority Leader’s efforts.

Schumer became the latest member of Congress to submit suggestions for nationwide regulations for the sector, with states so far having adopted their own legislative approaches to sports betting after PASPA, the federal law banning sports betting, was overturned in May.

“With the Supreme Court's ruling, it's incumbent on the federal government to take a leadership role and provide the necessary guidance to prevent uncertainty and confusion for the leagues, state governments, consumers and fans alike,” Schumer said.

“The stakes are too high – legal sports betting laws must be crafted and executed in a careful and thoughtful way. As state legislatures develop new legislation in the weeks and months ahead, I hope they will take these principles under consideration.

“I also support the efforts in the Congress to debate and develop bipartisan federal legislation that would adhere to these principles.”

However, the AGA was scathing in its response, despite saying that the casino gaming industry “shares Senator Schumer's goal in preserving the integrity of sporting events and providing consumer protections”.

The AGA’s senior vice-president of public affairs, Sara Slane, said: “Federal oversight of sports betting was an abject failure for 26 years, only contributing to a thriving illegal market with no consumer protections and safeguards. New federal mandates are a non-starter.

“The casino industry is working with stakeholders to ensure the proper protections for consumers, and the integrity of bets and sporting contests are included in state policy, universally implemented by all operators in those states, and overseen by effective state and tribal gaming regulators.”

Aside from suggesting that sports wagering should only be open to those aged 21 and over and that sportsbooks should adopt responsible advertising policies and report suspicious betting activities, Schumer said that only official league data should be used – enabling the sports properties to benefit from a lucrative new revenue stream.

Unsurprisingly, the leagues were buoyed by the proposals.

“As legalised sports betting spreads across the states, there is a need for consistent, nationwide integrity standards to safeguard the sports millions of fans love,” read a joint statement from the NBA basketball league, Major League Baseball and golf’s PGA Tour. “We strongly support the legislative framework outlined by Senator Schumer and we encourage Congress to adopt it.”

In another joint statement, American football’s NFL and the National Collegiate Athletic Association added: “We applaud the leadership demonstrated by Senators and Schumer in supporting federal legislation to protect the integrity of our games following the Supreme Court decision.

“Core federal standards are critical to safeguarding the sports we love, the millions of athletes across the country who play these games at all levels and our fans.”

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch plans to table sports betting legislation in the coming weeks, but it is highly unlikely that any bill will be passed before the end of the 2018 legislative session.

However, such developments could prove to be disruptive in 2019, particularly with several states hopeful of pushing through legislation in the first half of next year.