Members Of Congress Urge House Committee To Approach Sports Betting ‘With Caution’ In New Letter

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Dina Titus Congress sports betting

This is a developing story and will be updated.

A pair of members of Congress from states with legal sports betting have a message for a House subcommittee examining the subject on Thursday: Proceed with caution.

Congresswoman Dina Titus (Nevada) and Congressman Tom MacArthur (New Jersey) penned a letter to the leaders of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigation. That subcommittee is hosting a hearing called  “Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America.”

More on the hearing here.

Two lawmakers weigh in on US sports betting

Titus and MacArthur are apprehensive of the federal government getting involved in a form of gaming already going on in their home states:

As members from states that have already legalized, regulated, and opened the doors to sports betting, we have seen success of regulation at the state level and feel proposals for a federal  framework should be approached with caution.

Here is the letter.

Sports wagering is already legal and occurring in five states, with two more on the way before the end of 2018. Even more states are likely to legalize sports gambling in 2019.

The lawmakers go on to say their states and others “already have some form of gaming regulatory structure which could be used to regulate sportsbooks.”

Calling out the pro leagues

One of the reasons Thursday’s hearing is happening is likely because of lobbying from some of the pro leagues, such as the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball. An executive from the NFL will appear at the hearing.

The NBA and MLB have called for a transfer of money from legal sportsbooks directly to the leagues on which wagering would occur. (The NFL has largely been silent on this particular issue.)

But Titus and MacArthur do not believe that the leagues need to be as involved in sports betting as they say they must:

Calls for integrity fees paid to leagues would chip away at state revenues and already slim revenue margins for legal sportsbooks, hurting their ability to compete with offshore books and move more consumers into the regulated market.

Las Vegas has been a recent example of how leagues and legalized sports betting can successfully coexist in the same environment without threats to integrity, with the introduction of the NHL Vegas Golden Knights, WNBA Las Vegas Aces, and soon-to-be NFL Las Vegas Raiders.

And they go on to say that relationships between sportsbook operators and the leagues should not be handled with too much legislative oversight:

The Supreme Court decision has also spurred discussions and commercial contracts between operators and professional leagues, which share economic and reputational interests in ensuring fair and honest competitions and wagers. A heavy-handed federal framework could repress innovation and competition, sending more people back to the illegal market.

Such deals have started happening quickly. MGM Resorts International has partnered with the NBA on sports betting. Last week, bookmaker William Hill US announced a deal with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

What will happen in Congress on Thursday?

The smart money is on not much of consequence occurring as a result of the sports betting hearing.

Currently, there’s no bill in Congress to example, mid-term elections are around the corner, and the Capitol is consumed by the ongoing issues surrounding the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court.

Sports betting will get its day in Congress, but actual progress coming out of the hearing appears unlikely