Is legal sports betting really on the way in the United States in the next four years?
According to the American Gaming Association, it is. And the casino group announced a new set of policy principles as it tries to guide the country toward a legal and regulated environment for sports betting.
The latest on the push for legal sports betting in the US
One of the AGA’s main initiatives over the past two years is to advocate for regulation of sports betting. Currently, single-game sports betting only takes place in Nevada because of the federal prohibition — PASPA.
That initiative took another step forward this week as the AGA’s board of directors outlined the industry’s approach to legalized sports betting as it works with lawmakers at the federal and state level:
Here are the public policy principles the AGA agreed to:
- Defer to states regarding the desirability of regulating sports betting as all forms of casino wagering;
- Ensure the integrity of sports betting and sports through state licensing and regulation;
- Make all sports betting businesses transparent to law enforcement; and
- Ensure a tax regime does not undermine regulated sports betting operations’ ability to compete against illegal offshore operators.
“The stars are aligning to finally repeal this failing law — the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). At a time when Washington remains deeply divided, sports betting has the support of Americans of all political stripes,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the AGA, via a press release. “Legal, regulated sports betting will enhance fan engagement and entertainment, empower law enforcement and strengthen the integrity of every game. Everyone wins.”
Legal sports betting by end of Trump’s first term?
In recent years, Freeman and the AGA have put a relatively short window on the legalization of US sports betting.
But that timeframe got a real finish line when Freeman told Fox Business News that he expects legalization to happen during the first term of President Donald Trump. That would mean by 2020.
The legalization of sports betting in a widespread manner in the next four years would likely require one of these three events to occur:
- A victory for New Jersey in the ongoing NJ sports betting case, which is being appealed to the US Supreme Court.
- Another state passing a law like NJ to challenge the current federal ban.
- Congress amending or repealing PASPA.
How likely any of those scenarios is a matter of speculation. But one or more of these things would definitely have to happen for the AGA’s plan to work out.
State vs. federal regulation for sports betting?
No matter what path emerges, the regulatory aspect is likely to ruffle some feathers.
The AGA, with its policy positions, is advocating that states take care of sports betting regulation. The major US pro sports leagues, meanwhile, are either against regulation publicly or want it to happen at the federal level.
The soundbites from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred point to the fact that the leagues want the federal government to oversee it, rather than having a patchwork of state regulations.
Regulation of gambling in the US, of course, has largely been the domain of the states.
How much friction will this state vs. federal approach create between the leagues and interests pushing for legal sports betting? That will be a key moving part moving forward.