The idea of a broad-reaching association that brings together sports betting regulators across North America was met with enthusiasm, as members from nearly two dozen jurisdictions met at the inaugural Sports Betting Regulators Association meeting Sunday afternoon
The timing was not ideal as it came at the end of the summer meeting of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States. But those not in Boston still made time to jump on the Zoom call to discuss the SBRA’s future.
There were not many specifics hammered out at the first meeting. One thing is clear, though: North American sports betting regulators are happy to have peers easily accessible for help.
Modeling sports betting association after horse racing group
Leading the meeting was Ed Martin, the manager of the SBRA, alongside Chairman Charles Moore from Wyoming. Martin is also the president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, from which the SBRA is drawing ideas.
The ARCI has multiple committees that hold their own meetings every few months. Martin envisions a similar format for the SBRA and threw out potential committees for members to consider:
- Contest integrity
- Payments (including cryptocurrency)
Need for information sharing
One theme regulatory representatives from smaller or newer states consistently hit on was the need to share information.
There was support for some kind of system that would share information on prohibited bettors, such as people associated with professional sports organizations.
As for asking fellow regulators for help, Miller had a suggestion based on ARCI’s practices. The group has a members-only section on its website that allows one person to post a question that is answerable by other members.
Group could help states share regulatory knowledge
Miller went around the physical and digital meeting room to hear from every regulatory representative. He asked them for their ideas and concerns that the SBRA could tackle.
Arizona, for example, is concerned about transparency both with the commission as well with its operators:
“… but also just kind of having these meetings so we can stay in the loop and know when [the operators are] trying to pull the wool over our eyes a little bit, so to speak, to convince us to do something when another state may or may not be implementing what they say they are,” said Caitlin Caputo, general counsel for the Arizona Department of Gaming.
Caputo later clarified her comment to LSR:
“What I intended to impart was that operators may wish to persuade regulators of certain approaches based upon their understanding of what may occur in other states, however it is important for state regulatory agencies to speak with each other directly in order to avoid confusion or inaccurate understandings of current practices. Given the various jurisdictional differences, regulatory changes, and legal environments, there may be unique considerations that other state regulators can provide that operators may not be able to.”
Saskatchewan rep happy for help
Donna Brewer, the director of gaming integrity and licensing at the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority, said the timing of the meeting was perfect. Saskatchewan plans to launch full online sports betting this fall.
“I’m really happy to see that there was a regulator meeting developed because as the other people said around the table I was kind of feeling a little isolated,” Brewer said.
It sounds like the group could be a big help in Saskatchewan. Brewer seemed to question whether betting on high school sports should be allowed:
“We’re working on our standards right now and we have questions such as who to allow to be bet on, like amateur sports. In some jurisdictions, it’s high school football. Well, we have planned not to allow that here but I’m wondering where the cutoff is for other jurisdictions.”
There is no betting on high school sports allowed anywhere in North America’s regulated markets.
Smaller states appreciative
This group will help those states without big budgets, Susan Christian, executive secretary of the South Dakota Commission on Gaming, said:
“It’s sharing the ideas on how to regulate it, how to look at the integrity of it, the technology standards. Because we’re so small, where do I find those people? They’re not going to be on my payroll, it’s not going to be in my budget to get the tech people to tell me what I should be looking at, what I shouldn’t be looking at.
“I’m hoping this committee, this organization will kind of fill that gap for me and give me some idea of what I should be telling my employees that they should be looking for.”