Legal Sports Report

Sen. Orrin Hatch Delivers Speech On Sports Betting In Congress, Will Introduce Bill Soon

Hatch Sports Betting Congress

Sen. Orrin Hatch delivered a speech Thursday on the Senate floor about sports betting, promising to offer legislation “in the coming weeks” that would tackle federal regulation of the rapidly expanding industry in the US.

‘Improvements in monitoring and enforcement’

“Parts of the legislation I will be proposing are improvements in monitoring and enforcement that will benefit all stakeholders, sportsbooks, regulators, governing bodies and consumers,” Hatch said.

Hatch promised to introduce legislation in May, soon after the US Supreme Court struck down PASPA. Since then, wagering has become legal in New Jersey, Mississippi and Delaware. Pennsylvania and West Virginia also have passed laws allowing for legal sports betting.

One of the original architects of PASPA, Hatch said without this type of legislation “sports gambling would corrupt the integrity of the game.”

You can see his whole speech here:

The number of times he used the phrase “integrity of the game”: 17

Pushback on Hatch’s effort

“Federal oversight of sports betting was an abject failure, succeeding only in enabling the growth of a massive illegal market,” Sara Slane, senior vice president of public affairs for the American Gaming Association, said in response to Hatch’s comments.

“The Supreme Court decision removed this unconstitutional federal overreach, allowing states and sovereign tribal nations — who have proven to be effective regulators of all gaming — to decide what works best for their constituents,” Slane said.

Hatch in particular took issue with the West Virginia sports betting law in his speech and insisted it did little to protect the integrity of sports. The state will take its first wagers on Sept. 1.

“It’s amazing how quickly things get done when money is a motivator,” Hatch said. “This flurry of activity shows the need for federal minimum standards.”

Next steps for Congress and sports betting

If Hatch goes through with his plan on introducing a proposal to regulate sports betting with federal standards, it will come at a time where states and politicians are more focused on mid-term elections.

Several states — including Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky and Ohio — all plan on discussing the issue of sports betting in more detail after November elections. With a variety of states already having laws on the books and more to come, it’s not clear how much interest Congress would have in unwinding those laws in future years.

Any action from Hatch at the federal level, would have to come during a “lame duck” session later in the fall.

Also of note: Hatch is retiring from the Senate after the current term of Congress ends.

Hatch said he also hopes Congress will take up sports betting in future hearings. In June, a House Judiciary Committee scheduled then promptly postponed a discussion on sports betting. A potential hearing could be scheduled for September but reports say that might not happen.

Scandals in sports betting

During his 12-minute speech, Hatch referenced a number of events that were manipulated for sports betting purposes. He also referenced several in his op-ed back in May.

Several of the events detailed by Hatch, however, were uncovered due to the existence of legal regulated markets.

Nicholaus Garcia
- Nick comes from West Texas where he graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in psychology. After a five-year stint in Chicago, where he wrote about local politics and graduated with a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia College Chicago, he moved to Washington, D.C. to write about issues related to gambling policy, sports betting and responsible gaming.

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